Sierra Nevada Carnivore Monitoring Program

A landscape photo of the southern Sierra Nevada Mountain range

 

Background

Sierra Nevada Fisher visiting a monitoring station

Fisher visiting a camera survey station.
Pacific Marten visiting a monitoring site
Pacific Marten visiting a camera survey station.

     The Region 5 Sierra Nevada Carnivore Monitoring Program is a long-term broad-scale population monitoring program to detect potential population declines in fisher (Pekania pennanti) and Pacific marten (Martes caurina) throughout National Forest lands in the Sierra Nevada, with a primary focus on the small and isolated southern Sierra Nevada fisher population.

    This program systematically surveys monitoring units using remote sensor cameras, track-plate stations and genetic sampling to detect species and identify individuals. While originally designed to detect changes in occupancy, advances in survey methodology and analytical techniques have expanded the scope of the program to also include monitoring for changes in genetic diversity, population connectivity, species interactions and dietary composition over time.  Monitoring occurs over time at fixed locations and therefore changes in species presence can be correlated with changes in environmental conditions over time, such as wildfire, drought, and tree mortality.

 

 

 

Accomplishments and Future Dirrections

Over the last 17 years of systematic surveys, the Sierra Nevada Carnivore Monitoring Program has completed >50,000 visits to monitoring stations across the Sierra Nevada.  These surveys provide scientifically defensible data to inform land management, listing decisions and conservation strategies, as well as provide valuable biological information about fisher, marten and other associated carnivore species such as [shown below] bobcat (Lynx rufus), mountain lion (Puma concolor), gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), coyote (Canis latrans), black bear (Ursus americana), ringtail (Bassariscus astutus) as well as a variety of small mammal species.

Bobcat visiting a camera station.

Mountain lion visiting a camera station.

Gray fox visiting a camera station.

Coyote visiting a camera station.

Bear visiting a camera station.

Ring-tailed cat visiting a camera station.

 

This long-term monitoring data provides a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of environmental change on mammalian species at a landscape scale which is especially important given the recent widespread drought and tree mortality in the southern Sierra Nevada.  It is one of the few sources of wildlife occurrence data spatially extensive enough to match the scale and scope of the tree mortality event and this will be a major focus of future work for the monitoring program.

 

Example of fisher tracks collected at a monitoring track-plate stationExample of fisher tracks collected at a box survey station.

Example of Pacific marten tracks collected at a monitoring track-plate stationExample of pacific marten tracks collected at a box survey station.

 

Selected Publications

Davis, C.L., Rich, L.N., Farris, Z.J., Kelly, M.J., Di Bitetti, M.S., Blanco, Y.D., Albanesi, S., Farhadinia, M.S., Gholikhani, N., Hamel, S. Harmsen, B.J., J.M. Tucker et al., 2018. Ecological correlates of the spatial co‐occurrence of sympatric mammalian carnivores worldwide. Ecology letters.

Tucker, Jody M.; Allendorf, Fred W.; Truex, Richard L.; Schwartz, Michael K. 2017. Sex-biased dispersal and spatial heterogeneity affect landscape resistance to gene flow in fisher. Ecosphere. 8(6): e01839.

Rich, L.N., Davis, C.L., Farris, Z.J., Miller, D.A., Tucker, J.M., Hamel, S., Farhadinia, M.S., Steenweg, R., Di Bitetti, M.S., Thapa, K. and Kane, M.D., 2017. Assessing global patterns in mammalian carnivore occupancy and richness by integrating local camera trap surveys. Global Ecology and Biogeography. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 26(8), pp.918-929.

Zielinski, William J.; Tucker, Jody M.; Rennie, Kerry M. 2017. Niche overlap of competing carnivores across climatic gradients and the conservation implications of climate change at geographic range margins. Biological Conservation. 209: 533-545. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2017.03.016.

Ellis, Martha M.; Ivan, Jacob S.; Tucker, Jody M.; Schwartz, Michael K. 2015. rSPACE: Spatially based power analysis for conservation and ecology. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1111/2041-210X.12369.

Tucker, Jody M.; Schwartz, Michael K.; Truex, Richard L.; Wisely, Samantha M.; Allendorf, Fred W. 2014. Sampling affects the detection of genetic subdivision and conservation implications for fisher in the Sierra Nevada. Conservation Genetics. 15(1): 123-136.

Zielinski, William J.; Baldwin, James A.; Truex, Richard L.; Tucker, Jody M.; Flebbe, Patricia A. 2013. Estimating trend in occupancy for the Southern Sierra fisher Martes pennanti population. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 4(1); e1944-687X. doi: 10.3996/012012-JFWM-002

Tucker, Jody M.; Schwartz, Michael K.; Truex, Richard L.; Pilgrim, Kristine L.; Allendorf, Fred W. 2012. Historical and contemporary DNA indicate fisher decline and isolation occurred prior to the European settlement of California. PLoS ONE. 7(12): e52803.

Spencer, Wayne; Rustigian-Romsos, Heather; Strittholt, James; Scheller, Robert; Zielinski, William; Truex, Richard. 2011. Using occupancy and population models to assess habitat conservation opportunities for an isolated carnivore population. Biological Conservation 144(2): 788-803

For more Forest Service publications, visit Treesearch.

Contact Information

Jody Tucker, Ph.D.
Wildlife Biologist

Sierra Nevada Carnivore Monitoring Program Leader
R5, Sequoia National Forest

p: 209-962-7825 x528
c: 559-359-5888
f: 209-962-7412
jtucker@fs.fed.us

24545 Highway 120
Groveland, CA 95321





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/plants-animals/wildlife/?cid=FSEPRD590791