Matthew Bettelheim

Matthew Bettelheim is a freelance writer and a wildlife biologist with URS Corporation.

Native Son


The Pacific Coast of North America has only one species of native turtle: the western pond turtle. Just 80 years ago, a naturalist found more than 100 of these creatures thriving along an unremarkable stretch of a local creek. Today, a similar survey turns up a fraction of that, as natives compete with plentiful escaped pet turtles and other exotics. But a new conservation plan could tip that balance, and public awareness, back in the western pond turtle’s favor.

Presumed Extinct


Mention extinct species, and most people think of long-gone mastodons and saber-toothed tigers. But we know that some Bay Area species have disappeared in just the last 200 years. Or have they? Prompted by rediscoveries of lost species in Solano and Contra Costa counties, we decided to see what other missing flora and fauna might still be out there, awaiting a patient observer.

Book Review: Califauna: A Literary Field Guide


Califauna: A Literary Field Guide, edited by Terry Beers and Emily Elrod, Heyday Books, 2007, 293 pages, $21.95 The bookworm interested in a true literary field guide to California wildlife need look no further than Califauna. Part anthology, part … Read more

Finding the Stash


From the snowdrifts of Siberia to the labs of UC Davis, assistant research professor Vladimir Pravosudov has studied the food-caching behavior of various birds, including Russian birds that cache up to half a million items in one year. Born in … Read more

Book Review: Firescaping


Firescaping: Creating Fire-Resistant Landscapes, Gardens, and Properties in California’s Diverse Environments, by Douglas Kent, Wilderness Press, 2005, 149 pages, $18.95 Given the propensity for California’s wildlands to ignite, Douglas Kent’s Firescaping is a much-needed addition to the libraries of home … Read more