Almost 50 mammal species call the campus home, thanks largely to the range of habitats found on campus and the protection afforded by the Campus Natural Reserve. Some, like the black-tailed deer, are easy to observe, while others, like bats, shrews, and woodrats, are rarely seen. Mammals can be observed indirectly, though, by looking for scat (poop), footprints, trails, burrows, and nests. If you find an area that seems to have a lot of these signs, come back at dawn or dusk, sit still, and watch. When you see an unfamiliar mammal, look closely at markings on the face and legs and the length of the tail – these traits will often help you identify it later.

UCSC/UC Natural Reserve Resources

The Norris Center has over 600 mammal skin and skeleton specimens in its collection, covering the majority of diversity of Central California, but also including specimens from across the world. You can search our mammal collections on Arctos. Contact for any questions about our mammal collection.

Resource Partitioning Between Monterey Dusky-Footed Woodrats (Neotoma fuscipes luciana) and Brush Rabbits (Sylvilagus bachmani) in Maritime Chaparral Habitat

UCSC undergraduate Gozong Lor tested whether two species of small mammal competed over an abundant resource at Fort Ord Natural Reserve for her senior thesis project in Spring 2019. 

Mammals of Younger Lagoon Natural Reserve

UCSC undergraduates and Norris Center students Zerina Burovic and Jordan Bahktegan analyzed camera trap data from the UC Natural Reserve Resurvey project to create an informational brochure on the ecology and distribution of common mammal species at Younger Lagoon.

Asessing the Accuracy of Photogrammetry via an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) on Northern Elephant Seals (Mirounga angustirostris)

Norris Center Student Award winnter Trevor Barclay showed that drones could be used to accurately measure the mass of Northern Elephant Seals while the seals are on the beaches of Año Nuevo Island Reserve.

Nasal Microbiome Changes in the Northern Elephant Seal as Influenced by Gender, Migration and Maternal Transmission

Norris Center Student Award winner Adam Taylor analyzed the microbiome of Northern Elephant Seals from nasal swabs of males, females and their pups. Adam found that migration does not change the microbiome, but gender does, with maternal transmission greatly affecting microbiome composition.

Current and Historical Distribution of the Endemic Santa Cruz Kangaroo Rat, Dipodomys venustus venustus

Norris Center Student Award winner Deanna Rhoades analyzed historic records and trapped in sandhill habitats to determine the distribution of the Santa Cruz Kanagroo Rat. Deanna found that the Kanagroo Rat is likely extirpated from all but one site in Henry Cowell State Park.

A guide to Ornithology and Mammalian Collections within Natural History Museums

Webster Fellow Brian Johnson created a guide to the best practices when curating, organizing and caring for a natural history collection of bird and mammal specimens based on his work at the Norris Center and at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.

Resource Partitioning Between Monterey Dusky-Footed Woodrats (Neotoma fuscipes luciana) and Brush Rabbits (Sylvilagus bachmani) in Maritime Chaparral Habitat

Norris Center Student Award Winner Gozong (Zina) Lor investigated whether Woodrats and Brush Rabbits compete over manzanita resources at Ford Ord Natural Reserve. Lor found that the two species may avoid competition by partitioning manzanita resources by height: Woodrats forage significantly higher than Brush Rabbits at Fort Ord.

An Analysis of Pleistocene Bison from the Russian Far East

Norris Center Student Award Winner Christian Lowson extracted ancient DNA from a species of Bison from Russia's Far East. He extracted the first nuclear DNA for this species, and confirmed that at least two species of Bison were present in the Far East during the Late Pleistocene.


General Resources

American Society of Mammalogists

Home of the Journal of Mammalogy, and the Mammalian Species database. These are great peer-reviewed resources to use as references. Also learn about Mammalogy careers and grants.

National Geographic: Animals

Website by Publishers of the world famous magazine, chock full of amazing animal photographs, videos, and articles.

Mammalian Species accounts

This site lists nearly every mammalian species. Click on a name to view the original description of each species when they were first officially named.

Mammal Species of the World

Explore a checklist of mammals throughout the world by clicking through order, family, genus, and species.

Animal Diversity Web

Discover the general inner-workings of what makes mammals what they are and learn about the diversity of behavioral adaptations they have.

Smithsonian - National Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian online resource to making field guides for mammals and for viewing skulls of various mammals.

Key Guide to Mammals Skulls and Lower Jaws

A key to help identify wild and domestic animals in the United States based on the skull.