Foothills Stream Monitoring

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Frog in water with eggs.
A frog watches over its eggs in the water.

Wildlife Monitoring

Traditional Surveys

Technology has yet to completely replace the need for traditional surveys: using your own eyes and ears to observe an environment and recognize distinguishing qualities. We can discover and record what organisms are present, where they are, how many, and what their behavior is just by taking a closer look at an environment. Surveys help us to learn about biodiversity, detect invasive species, or notice seasonal changes in organisms.

Environmental DNA (eDNA)

Helping to fill in the gaps of traditional surveys, eDNA is a method of wildlife survey that detects species presence in an environment by collecting a sample of water and analyzing any genetic material that it contains. The DNA shed by organisms in the form of skin cells, feces, hair, and any other of a variety of ways acts as clues that can reveal their presence in a location after laboratory analysis of the sample. This means that even if we don’t see an organism, we can discover whether or not it has recently been in the environment we are surveying.

Camera Traps

Most animals will keep a safe distance between themselves and humans, while some only come out in the evening or at night, and others (like mountain lions) could have ranges of hundreds of miles. All of these factors can make certain species difficult to detect through traditional fieldwork. Wildlife camera traps help to fill in the gaps. By taking photos when triggered by movement, even at night, they can see things that we would otherwise miss. Check out our page on eMammal to see who has been visiting our plots!
Water flows over rocks.
Water flows around rocks in a stream

Photo by Christian Schroll

Studying Streams

Stream Discharge

When studying streams, water is key. By measuring how quickly water is flowing, constructing a rough picture of the stream along a transect, and doing a little math, we can estimate the amount of water that is moving through an environment. With all species dependent on water's availability, its abundance or absence may key us in to subtle changes in the organisms we see and how they behave.


What makes up the bottom of the stream? Is it all sand or is it rocky? Stream bed and bank materials are key elements in the formation and maintenance of channel morphology. These materials influence channel stability and resistance to changes in underlying materials or direction during high flow events (Silt may flow away quickly, while a boulder is likely to stay in place). In order to determine this, we take measurements of the substrate (the material at the bottom of the channel) along the length of the transect to get a picture of what is going on underneath the water.

Water Chemistry

How do we know what's in the water? One of our tools detects the temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and total dissolved solids within the water. Measuring these attributes can tell us a lot about the health of a stream, developing long term data sets to look for trends or sudden anomalies. A sudden increase in specific conductivity (SpCond), for instance, could indicate additional material runoff into the water, possibly human caused. Temperature trends over a long period of time may lead us to information on how this specific stream and the organisms that live in and around it are being affected by climate change.

Last updated: March 23, 2018

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Mailing Address:

47050 Generals Highway
Three Rivers, CA 93271


(559) 565-3341

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