Labors of Love
Tricolored Blackbird, Agelaius tricolor, EN*
Steve Hampton, Yolo County, CA, 2003 , Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0
Bushy Lake Restoration Project, Sacramento, California
(please see notes on Michelle Stevens below)
photograph: Valerie Constantino
The beauty of the Endangered Species Act is that it is a federal act of empathy, put into
writing and upheld by law. It is an elegant act of mind and heart that is both visionary and inclusive.
It proceeds our Declaration of Independence and portends a Declaration of Interdependence.
...The great consequence of the ESA is that it ensures that we, as a species, will not be alone.
We will remain part of a living, breathing, thriving community of vibrant beings with feathers, fins
and fur; roots, petals and spines; and trunks, branches and leaves….Wild beauty will be maintained.
- Terry Tempest Williams
The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.
- Jane Goodall
The tragedy of a saturated, violated planet pitted against an impervious political landscape fuels our urgency. Still, we know that the trauma of loss and other unavoidable as well as preventable experiences are alchemized through acts of creativity, observation, recognition and love. Conservation activities by groups and individuals, some that have been mentioned in this website, continue their determined efforts, staving off extinctions of sister species and even our own.
At the beginning of this project I reached out to colleagues in the sciences at Sacramento State University, where I have lectured since 2015. I was interested to learn about their disciplinary approaches to species extinction, environmental challenges and conservation. I spoke with Jamie Kneitel, PhD, chair of Department of Biological Sciences and Wayne Linklater, PhD chair, and Michelle Stevens, PhD, from the Department of Environmental Studies. Our exchanges underscored our distinct orientations, as well as our shared defense of the earth’s most vulnerable. Like all devoted guardians of the wild, their undertakings nudge the inevitable towards the recoverable. Theirs are labors of love.
Included here are selections from their writings and fieldwork. Throughout the year this section of this website will remain fluid, as we add to and alter its contents, as work evolves and others join the exchange.
Approximately 3.5 billion years after life began on Earth, we NOW share this planet with millions
of other species. Species are dynamic- they are born, live and die, flourish and decline, expand and
contract, and shaped by evolution. The state they are in today guarantees nothing as a change in the
environment, presence of a new species, modification of the land can create a new trajectory.
I have the privilege to work with threatened and endangered species, which occur in California
vernal pools. Many of these species belong to the Class Branchiopoda, a group that has been around
for almost half a billion years. These fairy shrimp and tadpole shrimp are only found in these temporary
ponds. The biggest threat to these organisms is habitat destruction, but the uncertainty with climate
change is also concerning. Research in my lab tries to understand the ecology of these species with a
goal to better manage their populations.
Pires, M. M., M. G. Grech; C. Stenert, L. Maltchik; L. B. Epele, K. I. McLean, J. M. Kneitel, D. A. Bell, H. S. Greig, C. R. Gagne & D. P. Batzer. 2021. Does taxonomic and numerical resolution affect the assessment of invertebrate community structure in New World freshwater wetlands? Ecological Indicators 125: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2021.107437
Haas*, A. R., S. M. Kross & J. M. Kneitel. 2020. Avian community composition, but not richness, differs between urban and exurban parks in Sacramento County, California, Journal of Urban Ecology 6: juaa028
Trained first as a freshwater ecologist and then later in wildlife biology, I've spent almost 25 years researching, writing and teaching about the ecology, behavior and management of a variety of animals, from meerkats to horses, and rhinoceros to elephant, in Africa, North America, Southeast-Asia and Australia.
Today, more and more of my work is about the behavior of the world's most abundant large mammal - people. I still work in wildlife biology but also to understand better the environmental behavior of people and our relationships, good and bad, with the natural world.
Black Rhinoceros, Diceros bicornis, CE*
Linklater, Wayne L. and Shrader, Adrian M., Rhino Management Challenges: Spatial and Social Ecology for Habitat and Population Management (Chapter 11), Conserving Africa's Megadiversity in the Anthropocene, Cambridge, 2017; https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/conserving-africas-megadiversity-in-the-anthropocene/rhino-management-challenges-spatial-and-social-ecology-for-habitat-and-population-management/BB83D79DB0C052B6C0642515304D753E
Linklater, Wayne L., et al, Translocations as Experiments in the Ecological Resilience of an Asocial Mega-herbivore, https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0030664
Michelle Stevens is a professor in the Environmental Studies Department at Sac State. Michelle is a tribal descendent of the Nez Perce tribe, at the Colville Reservation in Eastern Washington. She began working professionally as a wetlands and restoration ecologist and ethnobotanist since the mid 1980's with state, federal, consulting, and non-profit organizations. At this time, eco-cultural restoration at Bushy Lake on the lower American River and conservation of western pond turtles engages her research and passion.
Western Pond Turtle,
Actinemys marmorata, SSC in CA*
*EN, Endangered; CE, Critically Endangered;
SSC, Species of Special Concern, CA Fish and Wildlife