1. Globally, river systems have been extensively modified through alterations in riverscapes and flow regimes, reducing their capacity to absorb geophysical and environmental changes. 2. In western North America and elsewhere, alterations in natural flow regimes and swimways through dams, levees, and floodplain development, work in concert with fire regime, forest management practices, as well as agriculture and urban development, to change recovery trajectories of river systems. 3. Hydroregime scenarios for coho salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch (Walbaum, 1792), were investigated in Washington and Oregon, USA, where long‐term records of discharge, water temperature, and upstream fish passage are available. This novel approach combines hydrological and ecological data in a single visualization, providing empirical foundations for understanding upstream behavioural movement and tolerances of native fishes. 4. The timing of coho salmon movement with respect to temperature and discharge were compared with scenarios representing possible future hydrological conditions associated with a changing climate. 5. This approach provides a framework for the study of future hydrological alterations in other locations, and can inform local and regional conservation planning, particularly in view of water management policy. Management implications and recommendations for action that may expand the capacity of riverscapes to absorb perturbations are discussed.
Elk are an iconic species in the Pacific Northwest. The animals are valued as a cultural resource by American Indian tribes, and elk viewing and hunting bring economic and social benefits to many rural communities. Elk forage on grasses, shrubs, and other early-seral vegetation. As timber harvests have declined on federal land in the region over the past 30 years, so has the availability of quality elk forage. At the same time, recreation and other public uses of federal land have increased. As a result, elk are turning to private lands for forage and refuge from human disturbance. This leads to conflicts and reduced hunting opportunities.
Consequently, state and federal agencies, tribes, and hunting organizations are working to increase elk habitat on public and tribal lands where elk are a priority. In 2007, Mary Rowland and Michael Wisdom, research wildlife biologists with the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, were charged with developing new elk habitat and nutrition models for western Oregon and Washington. They enlisted the expertise of numerous scientists, and American Indian tribes provided telemetry data.
These summer range regional models of elk nutrition and habitat use incorporate the latest research on elk nutrition, elk response to disturbance, and other spatial landscape data to predict elk use of landscapes. National forests and tribes are using these models to identify areas where active management can improve elk habitat and the quality of their diets.
The relative contribution of private and public forest to the conservation of species in mixed-ownership landscapes has often been contentious because management goals vary among owners. This tension can be exacerbated by a lack of understanding about how wildlife use habitats managed by different landowners and the relative value of habitats in having different structures, configurations, and management histories. To address this knowledge gap and enhance science-based conservation planning among different ownerships, we analyzed habitat selection by 53 GPS-tagged California spotted owls across multiple temporal scales within mixed-ownership landscapes in the Sierra Nevada. At a fine temporal scale, step-selection function analysis of hourly locations collected by GPS tags suggested that foraging spotted owls selected closed-canopy, larger-tree forest (Quadratic Mean Diameter [QMD] ≥ 33 cm, canopy cover ≥ 60%). Point selection function (PSF) analysis based on single nightly locations suggested that spotted owls selected a broader range of forest conditions including selection of forests having intermediate sized trees and intermediate canopy cover (QMD 28–33 cm, canopy cover ≥ 50%), and the strength of selection for these forest conditions increased in the less frequently used areas of home ranges. The PSF also suggested that spotted owls selected areas with relatively high cover type heterogeneity that included a mix of seral stages, except in the core of their home range where they selected relatively spatially homogenous forests characterized by large trees and closed canopy. Spotted owl home ranges increased in size with increasing elevation and cover type heterogeneity, and decreased in size with forest characterized by intermediate-sized trees. Collectively, these results indicate that landscapes having forest patches characterized by either intermediate or large-sized trees, both with high canopy cover, likely constitute the important foraging habitat for California spotted owls in Sierra Nevada mixed conifer forests. However, selection for any one particular cover type was not sufficiently strong for us to infer selection of individual landownership types, in spite of differences in forest conditions among ownerships. Collectively, our findings suggest that privately-owned lands used in our study may harbor more suitable spotted owl foraging habitat than previously recognized. Finally, given the importance of understanding the relationship between landowner management priorities and the resultant pattern of vegetation on lands with different ownerships, the development of forest management strategies relevant for broad-scale conservation of the Sierra Nevada forest will benefit from effective collaboration between forest managers, landowners, and research organizations.
Conceptual and methodological tools from behavioral ecology can inform studies of habitat quality, and their potential for evaluating habitat restoration in conservation efforts is explored here. Such approaches provide mechanistic detail in understanding the relationship between organisms and their habitats and are thus more informative than correlations between density and habitat characteristics. Several Pacific salmon species have been the target of habitat restoration efforts for the past 2–3 decades, but most post-restoration effectiveness studies have been limited to correlative data described above. In mark–recapture assays from four different study years, the affinity of sub-yearling Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tschawytscha) and steelhead (O. mykiss) for stream pools restored with or created by engineered log structures was greater than that for pools without restoration, though with high interannual variability. From corresponding distribution and density data, it was clear that habitat affinity data are not always concordant with single observations of density. The same was true of the correlation between either affinity or density and physical characteristics of pools, although depth and current velocity had some explanatory power for both responses in Chinook. Movement into pools by Chinook during the assays indicated that restored pools can support more immigrants at a given density than can unrestored pools; however, no such pattern emerged for steelhead. Variation among individuals in body condition has implications for population-wide fitness, and such low variation was correlated with stronger affinity for pools in Chinook regardless of restoration status. This suggests that pools may mediate habitat-related trade-offs and that restoring them might have a positive effect on fitness. Thus affinity, immigration, and condition data give much-needed mechanistic indication of habitat selection for restored habitat via an apparent capacity increase and those potential fitness benefits. This is stronger support for restoration effectiveness than density differences alone because density data (1) may simply indicate redistribution of fish from poor to good habitats and (2) are not adequate to show correlations between restoration and positive change in traits correlated with fitness.
Individual growth data are useful in assessing relative habitat quality, but this approach is less common when evaluating the efficacy of habitat restoration. Furthermore, available models describing growth are infrequently combined with computational approaches capable of handling large data sets. We apply a mechanistic model to evaluate whether selection of restored habitat can affect individual growth. We used mark-recapture to collect size and growth data on sub-yearling Chinook salmon and steelhead in restored and unrestored habitat in five sampling years (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2016). Modeling strategies differed for the two species: For Chinook, we compared growth patterns of individuals recaptured in restored habitat over 15-60 d with those not recaptured regardless of initial habitat at marking. For steelhead, we had enough recaptured fish in each habitat type to use the model to directly compare habitats. The model generated spatially explicit growth parameters describing size of fish over the growing season in restored vs. unrestored habitat. Model parameters showed benefits of restoration for both species, but that varied by year and time of season, consistent with known patterns of habitat partitioning among them. The model was also supported by direct measurement of growth rates in steelhead and by known patterns of spatio-temporal partitioning of habitat between these two species. Model parameters described not only the rate of growth, but the timing of size increases, and is spatially explicit, accounting for habitat differences, making it widely applicable across taxa. The model usually supported data on density differences among habitat types in Chinook, but only in a couple of cases in steelhead. Modeling growth can thus prevent overconfidence in distributional data, which are commonly used as the metric of restoration success.
Frozen in the act of scavenging dinner, the vulture’s head lay on the fox’s abdomen, covering the hole it had been attempting to enlarge. When biologists pulled the bird away, they found not only a healthy looking, though dead, fox underneath, but also scores of insects scattered around. Less than a mile away the scene was repeated. This time the dead animal was a black bear, again with a vulture lying on top of it and numerous insects scattered nearby.
These two scenes, which biologists found during raids conducted last year in California’s Lassen National Forest on “trespass marijuana grow sites,”highlight the broad and gruesome nature of wildlife poisoning associated with illegal marijuana cultivation on public, tribal, state and private lands across the United States. Today, growers use a wide variety of legal and illegal toxicants to protect the crop from rodents chewing irrigation lines and omnivores raiding food supplies.
Before the advent of intensive forest management and fire suppression, western North American forests exhibited a naturally occurring resistance and resilience to wildfires and other disturbances. Resilience, which encompasses resistance, reflects the amount of disruption an ecosystem can withstand before its structure or organization qualitatively shift to a different basin of attraction. In fire-maintained forests, resilience to disturbance events arose primarily from vegetation pattern-disturbance process interactions at several levels of organization. Using evidence from 15 ecoregions, spanning forests from Canada to Mexico, we review the properties of forests that reinforced qualities of resilience and resistance. We show examples of multi-level landscape resilience, of feedbacks within and among levels, and how conditions have changed under climatic and management influences. We highlight geographic similarities and important differences in the structure and organization of historical landscapes, their forest types, and in the conditions that have changed resilience and resistance to abrupt or large-scale. Resilience in North American Forests disruptions. We discuss the role of the regional climate in episodically or abruptly reorganizing plant and animal biogeography and forest resilience and resistance to disturbances. We give clear examples of these changes and suggest that managing for resilient forests is a construct that strongly depends on scale and human social values. It involves human communities actively working with the ecosystems they depend on, and the processes that shape them, to adapt landscapes, species, and human communities to climate change while maintaining core ecosystem processes and services. Finally, it compels us to embrace management approaches that incorporate ongoing disturbances and anticipated effects of climatic changes, and to support dynamically shifting patchworks of forest and non-forest.