Biodiversity Project in Elko District with GBI, NDOW, and BLM

Current public management of sensitive species has often been hindered by limited and incomplete knowledge as a result of outdated research, inadequate staffing, or the confines of project-based data gathering. But over the past year, GBI has been working with the Nevada Department of Wildlife and Bureau of Land Management to rectify this situation in the Elko District. Through the collaborative Biodiversity Project, these organizations have performed wildlife surveys and habitat sampling with the goal of improving knowledge of sensitive species on public lands in the Great Basin.

There are more than 90 identified sensitive species throughout this area, and the Biodiversity Project has focused on a number of these, including the rosy finch, the springsnail, the Mattoni’s blue butterfly, and a variety of bats, shrews, and raptors. What follows describes some of the methods employed in support of this important project.

Springsnail collected from an Elko District spring. (Photo by Almeta Helmig)

Springsnails

Working with the Te-moak Tribe, Nevada Gold Mines, and other private landowners, the entire Butte Valley/Odgers Ranch area was surveyed for springsnails in September 2019. In total, 37 springs were visited, with 88 springheads surveyed for snails. Collections were made from 24 of these springs, and these samples will be sent out for genetic identification thanks to financial support from Nevada Gold Mines.

Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finch

The team erected a camera trap near the entrance to an abandoned mine where a Gray-Crowned Rosy-Finch was previously sighted. It is hoped that this camera will (1) confirm the continued use of the mine by rosy-finch after the opening was protected with a wildlife friendly gate, and (2) provide information about the use of caves and abandoned mines by a variety of species. The camera will stay in place for a full year.

Mattoni’s Blue Butterfly

Mist net setup at Great Basin National Park. (Photo by Almeta Helmig)

The Biodiversity Program team revisited a location which had formerly been surveyed for Mattoni’s in order to rectify inconsistencies in the record. Surveys were also conducted along the Granite range north of Wells, NV. New populations of the Mattoni’s host plant, Eriogonum microthecum, were recorded for future studies.

Bats

Bat trapping, designed to identify species variety and health, was conducted in Dixie Valley, Pinions Range foothills, and Pine Valley. Over six trap nights, only three bats, all Myotis evotis, were captured. This may be related to the increased water availability in 2019 compared to previous years. With more water available, bats are less inclined to stop at sites with nets set up. Acoustic monitors were set up concurrently with each trap night, providing a complete species estimate for each site. Additional scouting was conducted in order to identify additional sites for trapping bats.

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