ESNERR coordinates a variety of biological monitoring programs. Some focus on common resident species as indicators of ecosystem health, while others track particularly vulnerable or rare species that require special management. These biological programs are largely unfunded, and rely heavily on volunteers for data collection. If you are interested in regularly participating in any of the programs below, contact Kerstin Wasson (email).

Biological Monitoring

Reserve Otter Monitoring Project (ROMP)
You may have seen otters frolicking in the ocean off Cannery Row in Monterey, but did you know that the Elkhorn Slough, home to more than 120 otters is the only estuary significantly colonized by southern sea otters? Equipped with spotting scopes and binoculars, volunteers for the Reserve Otter Monitoring Project (ROMP), monitor the number, locations, and activities of otters in Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing Harbor.

Early Detection of New Biological Invasions
Using as many pairs of volunteer eyes as possible, we attempt to discover “least wanted” invaders soon after they arrive, in the window of opportunity where control measures may be most effective.

Invertebrate Monitoring Program
Together with local classes and volunteer groups, we track mud-dwelling clams and worms in the lower Slough, and crab populations in the upper Slough.

Amphibian Monitoring Programs
With the help of student interns and volunteers, we track frog populations on the Reserve, focusing on threatened California red-legged frogs and attributes of the aquatic habitats in which they live.

Bird Monitoring Programs
Dedicated volunteers track a variety of bird populations on the Reserve – shorebirds and waterfowl, a rookery of nesting egrets, herons, and cormorants, a Caspian tern colony, breeding raptors, and small songbirds that use nestboxes.

Fish Monitoring
Currently, ESNERR does not monitor fish populations in Elkhorn Slough. A report by J. Brown (alumni graduate research fellow) summarizes past fish monitoring in the Slough by other researchers and makes recommendations for a low-cost monitoring program to be implemented by ESNERR in the future.

Flora Monitoring
Currently, ESNERR does not carry out monitoring for aquatic plants and algae. A report by S. Palacios (alumni graduate research fellow) summarizes past monitoring efforts and makes recommendations for future monitoring programs to be phased in by the ESNERR, with particular emphasis on eel grass and marsh plants. Click the links to download this report (160KB / PDF) and the associated table (32KB / PDF).