Two people stand on a grassy hillside in the King Range Wilderness, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
BLM
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
Mtn. Bike Rider on the Bizz Johnson Trail King Range National Conservation Area Poppy Three Pump Jacks, Midway-Sunset Oilfield
California
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Employee Profile

Mike Westphal

Ecologist
Hollister Field Office

Mike Westphal, Ecologist, joined the Hollister field office in October 2008.   He has a Ph.D. in Zoology from Oregon State University, where he studied the genetics of garter snake color patterns.   Prior to his graduate work, he was an active biologist on the central California coast for over two decades, holding positions with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.  He taught introductory biology at Linn-Benton College in Oregon and evolutionary biology at Oregon State University.  He got his start in biology as an amateur herpetologist while growing up in Los Gatos, California.

Mike’s most memorable experiences include crisscrossing the Western states collecting terrestrial garter snakes; searching for melanistic garter snakes on Wizard Island in Crater Lake and in the snake dens of Manitoba; catching coral snakes and raising roadrunners in southeast Arizona; hunting for spotted frogs in the mountains of Nevada; exploring California’s Great Valley in search of California tiger salamanders; hunting for woodland salamanders in Appalachia; catching collared lizards in Kansas; and driving the backroads of central California on rainy nights to look for California red-legged frogs, western spadefoot toads, and Santa Cruz long-toed salamanders. 

Following his graduate studies he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Ecological Genomics Institute at Kansas State University where he


Mike Westphal

conducted molecular genetic studies of snake pigmentation. He has an undergraduate bachelor's degree in linguistics from UC-Berkeley.

Mike’s professional specialties are landscape genetics, conservation, and the study of reptiles and amphibians.  His main duties with the BLM are monitoring endangered species, restoring habitat, managing public lands for game species such as deer and quail, and promoting scientific research.

He lives in Hollister with his wife and 2-year old son.  When not on the job, he enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, and nature photography.