Published since 1946
New Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Established in Nevada
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI) recently signed a cooperative agreement to establish a new Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at UNR. The Nevada unit is the 41st Cooperative Research Unit (CRU) in a national system across 39 states. The three-part mission of the CRU system is to conduct applied research to support management of fish and wildlife, provide post-graduate education to enhance the conservation workforce, and provide training and extension to meet the needs of cooperating agencies. The unique model of the CRU program increases productivity and capacity of the cooperators by allowing partners to leverage each other’s strengths. The Nevada CRU program will include three scientists employed through the USGS who will have adjunct faculty appointments to UNR. The unit scientists will focus their research and graduate student training on the ecology and management of Nevada’s fish and wildlife as well as the human dimensions of wildlife conservation and the importance of wildlife to the public’s overall quality of life.
WMI was involved in establishment of the CRU system in 1935 and remains the sole non-government cooperator in the system. WMI president, Steve Williams, explained that WMI’s mission, To enhance the conservation and professional management of North America’s wildlife, aligns well with the mission of the CRUs. Williams noted, “The addition of Nevada to the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit system is a proud moment for WMI and our cooperators in Nevada. We look forward to the new unit’s scientists’ contributions to improving fish and wildlife management in the Great Basin for the benefit of Nevada’s residents and visitors.”
The Nevada Department of Wildlife has been working for several years to establish a CRU in the state. A significant increase in the USGS budget for the CRU system beginning in fiscal year 2020 and support from Nevada’s Congressional delegation paved the way for this unit, the first new CRU in over 18 years.
“Nevada’s creation of a Cooperative Research Unit Program is a monumental success for the scientific research and conservation efforts for the state’s wildlife and habitat,” said Nevada Department of Wildlife Director Tony Wasley. “This partnership brings the state’s top wildlife and research agencies together at the table and allows us to enhance the effectiveness of our conservation science and delivery through collaboration.”
Housing the new CRU at the University of Nevada, Reno was a logical choice. NDOW has a physical presence on the UNR campus and a long-standing relationship with faculty and scientists there. “It is especially exciting to have this multi-agency program connected to the development of our graduate students,” said University President Brian Sandoval. “The University of Nevada, Reno has an impressive track-record of outstanding research and teaching in the natural resources, biology, ecology, and many other areas of study related to wildlife conservation and environmental settings. Bringing together the passion and expertise of these agencies, people, and resources will open new doors of opportunity, and apply the science and discovery of our faculty and students to real-world, real-time challenges.”
All the cooperators will link their respective research and training missions, sharing scientific expertise while training students interested in conservation to enter the workforce. Advised by unit scientists incorporating cutting edge academic training from university cooperators, graduate students will conduct applied research projects that directly address current natural resource concerns identified by state and federal partners.
“Nevada is facing unprecedented environmental change. Native plant communities and their associated fish and wildlife species are challenged by invasive weeds, increased fire frequency and intensity, water quantity and quality, and development associated with a growing human population,” said University Vice President for Research and Innovation Mridul Gautam. “Establishing a Cooperative Research Unit at the University of Nevada, Reno will significantly enhance the efforts of the University, the Nevada Department of Wildlife and other partners to address these natural resource management priorities.”
Each year, the Cooperative Research Unit system produces thousands of peer-reviewed research publications on conservation and natural resource management and educates more than 500 graduate students. Alumni of the program currently hold important leadership positions in nearly every state and federal fish and wildlife management agency.
Recruitment for the Unit Leader is underway. The cooperators anticipate filling all three unit scientist positions by early 2022.