Susan De La Cruz


Dr. Susan De La Cruz has >20 years of wildlife research experience in San Francisco Bay Delta and along the Pacific and Central Flyways and as the senior researcher at the San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station, she oversees and directs research activities.  With Federal, State, University, non-profit, and local partners, she is actively involved in designing, funding, implementing and publishing research on foraging and migration ecology, winter habitat use, survival and contaminant effects in nearshore avian species. Her Ph.D. research focused on how changes in benthic prey resources in the estuary influence winter body condition, subsequent spring migration and cross-seasonal reproduction in surf scoters (Melanitta perspicillata), a declining sea duck species that winters in along the Pacific coast. Other current research includes modeling effects of sea-level rise and geomorphic change on avian foraging ecology and carrying capacity, evaluating the effects of water traffic on avian habitat use and behavior, measuring post-oil spill survival and behavior, determining the value of natural and restored intertidal and subtidal habitats for waterbirds and tidal marsh endemics, assessing impacts of dredge operations on benthic communities, and assessing the effectiveness of sediment augmentation (sediment subsidies) on tidal marsh resiliency.



University of California, Davis: Ph.D., Ecology, Ecotoxicology Emphasis, December 2010

Dissertation titleHabitat, Diet, and Contaminant Relationships of Surf Scoters Wintering in San Francisco Bay: Implications for Conservation in Urban Estuaries

Texas A&M University:  M.S., Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, December 1998

Thesis titleScreening for Endocrine Disrupting Effects of Xenobiotics in Wildlife Using Oxbow Lakes and Settling Basins in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, TX

University of California, Davis: B.S., Biological Sciences, December 1992



Harris, M.C., Pearce, J.M., Prosser, D.J., White, C.L., Miles, A.K., Sleeman, J.M., Brand, C.J., Cronin, J.P., De La Cruz, S., Densmore, C.L., Doyle, T.W., Dusek, R.J., Fleskes, J.P., Flint, P.L., Guala, G.F., Hall, J.S., Hubbard, L.E., Hunt, R.J., Ip, H.S., Katz, R.A., Laurent, K.W., Miller, M.P., Munn, M.D., Ramey, A.M., Richards, K.D., Russell, R.E., Stokdyk, J.P., Takekawa, J.Y., and Walsh, D.P. 2016.   U.S. Geological Survey science strategy for highly pathogenic avian influenza in wildlife and the environment (2016–2020): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1121, 38 p.,

Mills, K.L., J.K. Gaydos, C.G. Fiorello, E.R. Whitmer, S.E.W. De La Cruz, D.M. Mulcahy, L.I. Vilchis, and M.H. Ziccardi.  2016.  Post-release survival and movement of Western Grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis) implanted with intracoelomic satellite transmitters.  Waterbirds 39(2):175-186. 

Costea, M., S. Stefanovic, M.A. Garcia, S.E.W. De La Cruz, M. L. Casazza, and A.J. Green.  2016. Waterfowl endozoochory: An overlooked long-distance dispersal mode for Cuscuta (dodder).  American Journal of Botany 103: 1-6.

Ackerman, J.T., Hartman, C.A., Herzog, M.P., Smith, L.M., Moskal, S.M., De La Cruz, S.E.W., Yee, J.L., and Takekawa, J.Y., 2014, The critical role of islands for waterbird breeding and foraging habitat in managed ponds of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, South San Francisco Bay, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014-1263, 118 p.,

De La Cruz, S.E.W., J.M. Eadie, A.K. Miles, J. Yee, K.A. Spragens, E.C. Palm, and J.Y. Takekawa. 2014. Resource selection and space use by sea ducks during the non-breeding season: Implications for habitat conservation planning in urbanized estuaries. Biological Conservation 169:68-78.

O’Neill, S.T., J.M. Warren, J.Y. Takekawa, S.E.W. De La Cruz, K.A. Cutting, M.W. Parker, and J.L. Yee. 2014. Beahvioural cues surpass habitat factors in explaining prebreeding resource selection by a migratory diver duck. Animal Behaviour 90:21-29.

Warren, J.M., K.A. Cutting, J.Y. Takekawa, S.E.W. De La Cruz, T.D. Williams, and D.N. Koons. 2014. Previous success and current body condition determine breeding propensity in Lesser Scaup: Evidence for the individual heterogeneity hypothesis. Auk 131:287-297.

Cutting, K. A., Hobson, K. A., Rotella, J. J., Warren, J. M., Takekawa, J. Y., De La Cruz, S. E. W., et al. 2013. Relative contribution of lipid sources to eggs of lesser scaup. Journal of Avian Biology.

De La Cruz, S.E.W., J.Y. Takekawa, K.A. Spragens, J.Y. Yee, R.T. Golightly, G. Massey, L.A. Henkel, R. S. Larsen, M. Ziccardi. 2013. Post-release survival of surf scoters following an oil spill: An experimental approach to evaluating rehabilitation success. Marine Pollution Bulletin 67:100-106.

Lovvorn, J.R., S.E.W. De La Cruz, J.Y. Takekawa, L.E. Shaskey, S.E. Richman. 2013. Niche overlap, threshold food densities, and limits to prey depletion for a diving duck assemblage in an estuarine bay. Marine Ecology Progress Series 476:251-268.

Lok, E. K., D. Esler, J. Y. Takekawa, S. W. De La Cruz, W. S. Boyd, D. R. Nysewander, J. R. Evenson, D. H. Ward. 2012. Spationtemporal associations between Pacific herring spawn and surf scoter spring migration: evaluating a “silver wave” hypothesis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 457:139-150.

Takekawa, J. Y., S. E. W. De La Cruz, M. T. Wilson, E. C. Palm, J. Yee, D. R. Nysewander, J. R. Evenson, J. M. Eadie, D. Esler, W. S. Boyd, and D. H. Ward. 2011. Breeding Synchrony, Sympatry, and Nesting Areas of Pacific Coast Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata) in the Northern Boreal Forest. Studies in Avian Biology 41:41-51.

Lok, E. K., D. Esler, J. Y. Takekawa, S. W. De La Cruz, W. S. Boyd, D. R. Nysewander, J. R. Evenson, D. H. Ward. 2011. Stopover habitats of spring migrating surf scoters in southeast Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management 75:92-100.

Cutting, K.A., Hobson A.K., Rotella J. J., Warren J. M., De La Cruz, S.E.W., Takekawa J.Y. 2011. Endogenous contributions to egg protein formation in Lesser Scaup. Journal of Avian Biology 42:505-513.

De La Cruz, S.E. 2010. Habitat, diet, and contaminant relationships of surf scoters wintering in San Francisco Bay: Implications for conservation in urban estuaries. Dissertation, University of California, Davis. 215 pp

De La Cruz, S. E. W., J.Y. Takekawa, M. T. Wilson , D. R. Nysewander, J. R. Evenson, D. Esler, W. S. Boyd, and D. H. Ward. 2009. Surf Scoter Spring Migration Routes and Chronology: A Synthesis of Pacific Coast Studies. Canadian Journal of Zoology 87:1069-1086.

Eagles-Smith, C. A., J.T. Ackerman, S.E.W. De La Cruz, J. Y. Takekawa. 2009. Mercury Bioaccumulation and Risk to Three Waterbird Foraging Guilds is Influenced by Breeding Stage and Trophic Ecology. Environmental Pollution 157:1993-2002.

Takekawa, J. Y., I. Woo, H. Spautz, N. Nur, J. L. Grenier, K. Malamud-Roam, J. C. Nordby, A. N. Cohen, F. Malamud-Roam, and S. E. Wainwright-De La Cruz. 2006. Environmental threats to tidal marsh vertebrates in the San Francisco Bay estuary. Studies in Avian Biology 32:176-197.

Takekawa, J. Y., S. E. Wainwright-De La Cruz, R. L. Hothem, J. Yee. 2002. Relating body condition to inorganic contaminant concentrations of diving ducks wintering in coastal California. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 42:60-70.

Wainwright S.E., M.A. Mora, J.L. Sericano, and P.Thomas. 2001. Chlorinated hydrocarbons and biomarkers of exposure in wading birds and fish of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas.  Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 40:101-111.

Mora, M.A. and S.E. Wainwright. 1998.  DDE, mercury and selenium in biota, sediments, and water of the Rio Grande-Rio Bravo Basin, 1965-1995.  Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 158: 1-52.

Wainwright, S.E. 1998. Screening for environmental contaminants and endocrine disruption in wildlife from the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas: an ecological and biomarker approach.  Unpublished Master’s thesis, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.  123pp.

Hothem, R.L., D.L. Roster, K.A. King, T.J. Keldson, K.C. Marois, and S.E.Wainwright. 1995. Spatial and temporal trends of contaminants in eggs of wading birds from the San Francisco Bay, California.  Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 14(8): 1319-1331.