The entire population of the island scrub-jays (Aphelocoma insularis) exists on Santa Cruz Island, a preserve jointly managed by The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. National Park Service off the coast of southern California.
Researchers recently noticed a population decline on a long-term study plot near the University of California's field station. It appears that the decline has been occurring since the mid-1990s and may threaten the survival of the species.
Therefore, The Nature Conservancy convened a meeting of conservation professionals in February 2008 to develop a monitoring and management plan for the island scrub-jay. A key recommendation from the workshop was to initiate a study of the scrub-jays' breeding success, demography, and population size.
Scientists from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, Colorado State University, and The Nature Conservancy mobilized to begin a 3-year study of the scrub-jay's reproductive ecology and island-wide distribution.
This project is part of broader research on the scrub-jay's ecology and population health involving biologists from the National Park Service and the Wildlife Health Center University of California-Davis.