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Spotlight: Mohave Ground Squirrel Surveys, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake

July 26, 2018
Vernadero

Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest contracted with Vernadero Group Inc. to survey Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake for the Mohave ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus mohavensis), a species the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has classified as threatened in California. This species may face extirpation in its southern range due to encroachment by the red-tailed ground squirrel (X. tereticaudus), among other factors. NAWS China Lake could contain core population areas for this species, making it essential to establish its presence, distribution, status, and habitat use on the Installation.

Vernadero will conduct visual surveys and will install passive infrared game cameras in key locations to record the presence of the Mohave ground squirrel and competing species such as the red-tailed ground squirrel. We will determine the locations of the cameras based on an initial reconnaissance survey with an expert on the species. We will then install 5 arrays of 5 game cameras each, for a total of 25 cameras. These cameras will be moved every two weeks to cover the entire survey area. Our analysis of survey data will enable NAWS China Lake to make informed management decisions and Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan updates.

Red-Tailed Ground Squirrel
Attribution on photo: Courtesy of Philip Leitner