Projects

The Birds and Mammals Department is involved in many projects on the study of Birds and Mammals in the southern California region.

San Diego County Bird Atlas

The San Diego County Bird Atlas is one of the most ambitious research projects the San Diego Natural History Museum has ever undertaken. It establishes a new benchmark for knowledge of birds in the region of the United States with more species than any other: 492 natives, migrants, and well-established exotics. Learn more.

San Diego County Mammal Atlas

Mammals are an integral part of the rich ecology in San Diego County—a recognized biodiversity hotspot. Despite the critical role mammals play in our environment, there has been no synthesis of their identification, distribution, natural history, or the conservation challenges they face—until now. Learn more.

Post-Fire Studies of Birds

In 2002 and 2003, over 1500 square miles of southern California burned in firestorms unequaled for over a century, the largest fires since accurate records have been kept. Because of the fires’ unprecedented size, their effects on the ecosystem were unknown and unpredictable. Learn more.

Post-Fire Studies of Mammals

In 2002 and 2003, over 1500 square miles of southern California burned in firestorms unequaled for over a century, the largest fires since accurate records have been kept. Because of the fires’ unprecedented size, their effects on the ecosystem were unknown and unpredictable. Learn more.

San Jacinto Resurvey

In 1908 the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at Berkeley mounted an expedition to the San Jacinto Mountain region, pioneering the exploration of southern California’s biology. On the 100th anniversary of this expedition, from 2008 to 2010, the San Diego Natural History Museum is retracing its path to see how the area’s wildlife has changed over the last century. Learn more.

Flying Squirrel Study

The San Diego Natural History Museum is launching a new study in collaboration with citizen scientists, the U.S. Forest Service, Big Bear Zoo, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to determine the distribution and habitat use of the San Bernardino Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus californicus), specifically along the urban edge where residential properties meet the natural environment. Learn more.

Grinnell Desert Resurvey

In 1908, pioneer ecologist Joseph Grinnell inaugurated the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ) at the University of California, Berkeley, with an expedition to the San Jacinto Mountains. Until his death in 1939, he continued his mission to document the fauna of western North America before it was forever transformed by human population growth and land-use changes. Learn more.

What We’re Up To

Some bird species museum scientists have been studying are spreading in a more southerly or downslope direction over time, which is contrary to the expectations of climate warming. Why is this happening? They attribute these shifts to three main factors, all directly resulting from human influence. Read more.


Scientists from The Nat have documented range shifts—changes to where an organism lives or occurs—of numerous animals, which are being analyzed in the broader context of climate warming and habitat change. One of these is the expansion of the nesting range of the Zone-tailed Hawk into California. Read more.


The Top 10 Specimens of the 2010s

Posted: December 26, 2019

In the spirit of the decade-spanning top ten lists that abound in our collective news feeds, we asked our curators to nominate two to three of the best specimens that were collected or discovered in the 2010s. We got 17 nominations, and musuem staff and volunteers voted to narrow the list down to “The Top 10 Specimens of the 2010s.” Read more.


Bridges make great bat roosts. But what happens with the bridge is crumbling and needs repair? That’s where our scientists come in. Read more.


Scientists working in Baja California resurrected a species from the ashes of extinction, and are now working with local agencies on a conservation plan. The San Quintin kangaroo rat was held as an example of a modern extinction due to agricultural conversion in the San Quintín area of Baja California. The animal had not been seen for 30 years, until its recent rediscovery. Read a first-hand account by the researchers.  Read more.