Our Programs

Current studies include:

Coyote assessment in Long Beach

CURes faculty, staff, and undergraduate student researchers are working together to conduct a coyote assessment in Long Beach. The team uses motion activated game cameras to capture images and video of the resident coyote population. This data is then analyzed using a range of techniques to assess coyote abundance, dispersal and movement patterns, and human impact. Additionally, the CURes group is performing scat analysis to gain insight into coyote diet patterns. This work will continue for another two years so that the City can better understand its coyote population. This research has implications as to how human populations can better engage with urban predators.

Hummingbird metabolism

This study aims to understand the nighttime metabolic state of nesting female hummingbirds. Specifically, whether those birds go into torpor at night, which is a hibernation-like state that hummingbirds enter when they must conserve energy. The study uses multiple sites in California, Massachusetts, and Costa Rica to get a more holistic understanding of the birds’ behavior. To learn more about the project, you can read CURes’ blog or a featured article in LMU magazine.

Wolf-hybrid studies

CURes, alongside other scientists, is embarking on a wolf hybrid project in Frazier Park, CA, to learn how wolf-dog hybrids can inform us of human psychiatric diseases. More details and results to come in 2018.

Human-animal bond

In partnership with the Annenberg PetSpace in Playa Vista, CURes is developing formal and informal educational materials on the importance of the human-animal bond. Dr. Eric Strauss (CURes Executive Director) is one of 15 Wallis Annenberg Leadership Institute Fellows, who are working in a cross-disciplinary capacity to research and better understand the relationship humans form with animals, particularly pets.


Past studies include:

Predator aversion studies to reduce crow predation on eggs of the California least tern 

The endangered California least tern, which nests in a colony on Venice Beach, has endured five consecutive years of reproductive failure due to heavy predation from American crows.  This threat to the viability of the Venice Beach colony and can negatively impact the tern population as a whole. Therefore, an experiment was deployed in 2014 in attempt to condition the crows to refrain from consuming tern eggs. Data from this experiment may provide biologists with new tools to better manage tern colonies across California.

Mesopredator studies tracking the movement and dynamics of coyotes and feral cats in the Ballona Wetlands

Urban ecosystems are characterized by their complexity as they contain both remnants of the original pre-industrial landscape as well as the modern built environment.  This collection of buildings, roads and open space serve as habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals. The degree to which the urban built environment alters the ecology of animals that live there is a an area of intense study. At CURes, we are particularly interested in the role that medium sized predators (meso-predators), such as coyotes, outdoor cats and American Crows play in the ecology of these mixed habitats.  Because cites are inhospitable to the largest of the region’s predators, such as mountain lions and bears, the smaller predators may take on an expanded importance in the flow of energy through the urban ecosystem. In addition, urban predators sometimes end up in conflicts with human inhabitants or inflict excessive predator pressure on vulnerable animal populations that are already stressed by the habitat degradation that happens in cities. The research team at CURes is dedicated to developing a deeper understanding of the ecology of these urban mesopredators and to helping develop humane and effective management strategies to alleviate the conflicts that arise among humans and animals. We are using a variety of methodologies to study mesopredators in the Los Angeles area. Some of the technologies include remote camera observations and radiotelemtry.  We welcome community participation in these studies and encourage you to contact us for more information.