VELB Collaboration (2002-2006)


Between 2002 and 2006, SAFCA and Sacramento County Department of Regional Parks (County) facilitated a collaboration with UC Davis scientists, numerous public agencies and companies (participant list) with the goal to improve the viability of the threatened Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle (VELB) in California and assist the efforts of the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) to create more effective rare species mitigation requirements. The work of the Collaborative served as a focus for conservation efforts for the VELB and has been a mechanism to bring together numerous groups who were concerned with the management of the VELB.

Objectives & Accomplishments

  1. Identified the distribution, abundance and extent of the VELB population within the American River Parkway (ARP) through mapping analysis.
  2. Identified and assessed the relative importance of habitat factors.
  3. Examined existing data and other VELB habitat management policies and guidelines.
  4. Assessed factors that promote high VELB occupancy and abundance by mapping extinction as an indicator of poor conditions and colonization as an indicator of good conditions.
  5. Assessed natural enemies including Argentine ants and other predators.
  6. Assessed commonly used landscape management practices such as pruning and topping of habitat;
  7. Assessed the effects of construction (road) dust on habitat.
  8. Further examined existing guidelines, policies and activities. Recommended guidelines, policies and activities that may improve VELB abundance and survival.
  9. Additional mapping (every elderberry shrub >1" in diameter was mapped in the ARP) to test the effects on VELB abundanceas it relates to distance from river, elderberry density and canopy cover.
  10. Pilot projects to test the effectiveness of proposed management guidelines and activities to help determine what constitutes good mitigation practices. Data, analysis and evaluations from this project and the VELB HMP were be made available to USFWS.
  11. A model to use mapping data to predict VELB occupancy based on functions of habitat characteristics (distance from rivers, elderberry density, etc.), management practices (irrigation, pruning, etc.), and neighborhood VELB densities (reflecting colonization potential). Such “incidence function” models have proven effective for predicting regional “metapopulation” persistence through analyses of “metapopulation viability”.
  12. Used results from earlier phases and proposed practical improvements/recommendations to current VELB conservation guidelines.

Products from the Collaborative

Selected Publications, Presentations and Technical Memorandums Research efforts directly and indirectly through the VELB Collaborative have given rise to the following list of publications, presentations & technical memoranda:

  • Talley, T.S., E. Fleishman, M. Holyoak, D. Murphy and A. Ballard. In Press. Rethinking a rare-species conservation strategy in an urbanizing landscape: The case of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Biological Conservation.
  • Talley, T.S. In Press. Which heterogeneity framework? Consequences for conclusions about patchy population structure. Ecology.
  • Vaghti, M., M. Holyoak, A. Williams, T.S. Talley, A.K. Fremier and S.E. Greco. In press. The influence of damming on blue elderberry (Sambucus mexicana), an important riparian ecosystem component. Restoration Ecology.
  • Talley, T.S., D.A. Piechnik and M. Holyoak. 2006. The effects of dust on the federally threatened Valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Environmental Management 37(2): 647-658.
  • Talley, T.S. 2005. Spatial ecology and conservation of the Valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of California, Davis. 17 December 2005. Outreach Presentations
  • Talley, T.S. 2006. Using landscape ecology to improve restoration. Invited speaker Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project Annual meeting. Santa Barbara, CA, 9-10 March 2006.
  • Talley, T.S. and M. Holyoak, 2005. Update on the habitat management plan project for the valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Lower American River Task force Meeting, 10 May 2005.
  • Talley, T.S. and M. Holyoak, 2004. Restoring Riparian Habitat for the Threatened Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle. Master Gardeners, U.C. Cooperative Extension, 9 November 2004.
  • Talley, T.S., M. Holyoak, and P.E.F. Buck. 2004. Integrating management and science to conserve the threatened Valley Elderberry Longhorn Beetle. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Noon-time seminar series, 8 Jan 2004 & Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, 8 November 2004.
  • Talley, T.S. 2004. Elderberry and VELB Ecology and Field Survey Methods Workshops (8 workshops). Trained County, State, Federal, and Private Biologists to identify and survey elderberry and VELB exit holes, and provided information on ecology of the system.
  • Talley, T.S. 2002. The ecology of the valley elderberry longhorn beetle. UC Natural Reserve System Docent Training Meeting, 21 November 2002. Scientific Meetings
  • Talley, T.S. 2006. How important is habitat quality to metapopulations? Ecological Society of America Meeting, 5-11 August 2006, Memphis, TN.
  • Talley, T.S. 2005. Determining the interactions between an insect and its environment across spatial scales; from host plants to landscapes. Ecological Society of America Meeting, 5-12 August 2005, Montreál Canada.
  • Fremier, A.K. and T.S. Talley. 2005. Restoring fluvial processes: the role of flood inundation in the distribution and abundance of a common riparian shrub. Ecological Society of America Meeting, 5-12 August 2005, Montreál Canada.
  • Talley, T.S., M. Holyoak, P.E.F. Buck. 2005. Integrating science and management to conserve the valley elderberry longhorn beetle. American River Watershed Conference, May 2005, Sacramento, CA.
  • Talley, T.S. and M. Holyoak. 2004. The influence of spatial scale on metapopulation dynamics of a rare habitat specialist. Ecological Society of America Meeting, 1-6 August 2004, Portland, OR.
  • Talley, T.S. and M. Holyoak. 2002. Determining multi-scale controls on the distribution and abundance of a rare riparian insect. Ecological Society of America Meeting, 5-11 August 2002. Tucson, AZ Technical Memorandum
  • M. Holyoak, T.S. Talley. 2005. Ideal design criteria for VELB mitigation sites.


American River Flood Control District
City of Sac. Utilities Department
National Fish & Wildlife Foundation
SAFCA (Project Management)
Sac. County Department of Regional Parks
    (Grant Administration)
Sacramento Municipal Utility District
UC Davis (research in Holyoak lab)
CA Department of Water Resources
City of Sac. Parks Department
Federal Highways Administration
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
Sac. County Department of Environmental Review
Sac. County Regional Sanitation District
State Reclamation Board
Western Area Power Administration