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Christopher Witt

Silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) field work in western Utah


322 East Front Street, Suite 401
Boise, ID 83702
Contact Christopher Witt

Current Research

I am currently focused on developing tools that quantify habitat for forest vertebrates listed as threatened, endangered or of special concern by state and /or federal management agencies. I am also working on trend models that can show resource managers which structural characteristics a species' habitat is limiting or is changing in abundance over time.

Species currently focused on include the pinyon jay, Mexican spotted owl, and red squirrel. Ecosystems currently focued on include pinyon-juniper woodlands and their ecotones with sagebrush steppe, mixed-conifer stands, and lodgepole pine stands that have whitebark pine as a component.

Research Interests

My interests include creating economically friendly modeling tools that resource managers can access at any time to assess the state of a species' habitat at large scales (landscape, state, ecoregions). I am also interested in tracking changes in forest structure over time as it relates vertebrate species habitat.

Past Research

Effect of isolation on small mammals in a sage-steppe matrix, Quantification of nesting habitat for Lewis' woodpecker in Utah, Assessment of seasonal habitat for mule deer in pinyon-juniper woodlands containing sagebrush, Predicting occurrence of heartrot fungus in aspen and its implications to cavity-nesting birds, pinyon jay habitat in pinyon-juniper woodlands.

Why This Research is Important

This research provides cost-effective habitat assessment and monitoring tools that are accessible to anyone. By using publically available Forest Inventory and Analysis data and leveraging it against state and local species occurrence information, I provide habitat estimation and trend analysis tools that can be used repeatedly over time with little cost or no financial burden to the user. This has fostered partnerships between federal, state, and local governments as well as academic institutions and non-government organizations that provide species information and input on model validity and utility.


  • Idaho State University, B.S., Ecology
  • Idaho State University, M.S., Population ecology
  • Featured Publications


    Cooke, Brian; Pelz, Kristen A.; Witt, Christopher; Driscoll, Katelyn P.; Luce, Charles H.; Anderson, David; Barbour, Jamie; Bush, Renate; Friberg, Mary; Perovich, Carolyn, 2020. Making sense of big data: Putting Forest Inventory and Analysis to work in forest planning
    Marcille, Kate C.; McIver, Chelsea P.; Hayes, Steven W.; Morgan, Todd A.; Witt, Christopher, 2020. Montana’s forest products industry and timber harvest, 2014: Part III: Sales, employment and economic contribution
    Witt, Christopher; Shaw, John D.; Menlove, Jim; Goeking, Sara A.; ; Pelz, Kristen A.; Morgan, Todd A.; Hayes, Steven W., 2019. Montana’s forest resources, 2006-2015
    Wurtzebach, Zachary; DeRose, R. Justin; Bush, Renate R.; Goeking, Sara A.; Healey, Sean P.; Menlove, James S.; Pelz, Kristen A.; Schultz, Courtney; Shaw, John D.; Witt, Christopher, 2019. Supporting National Forest System planning with Forest Inventory and Analysis data
    Shaw, John D.; Menlove, James S.; Witt, Christopher; Morgan, Todd A.; Amacher, Michael C.; Goeking, Sara A.; Werstak, Charles E. , Jr., 2018. Arizona’s forest resources, 2001-2014
    Witt, Christopher; ; Goeking, Sara A.; Shaw, John D., 2018. Idaho’s forest resources, 2006-2015
    ; Shaw, John D.; Goeking, Sara A.; Marcille, Kate; McIver, Chelsea P.; Menlove, James S.; Morgan, Todd A.; Witt, Christopher, 2018. Wyoming’s forest resources, 2011-2015
    Thompson, Michael T.; Shaw, John D.; Witt, Christopher; Werstak, Charles E. , Jr.; Amacher, Michael C.; Goeking, Sara A.; ; Morgan, Todd A.; Sorenson, Colin B.; Hayes, Steven W.; Menlove, James S., 2017. Colorado's forest resources, 2004-2013
    Menlove, James S.; Shaw, John D.; Witt, Christopher; Werstak, Charles E. , Jr.; ; Goeking, Sara A.; Amacher, Michael C.; Morgan, Todd A.; Sorenson, Colin B., 2016. Nevada's forest resources, 2004-2013
    Werstak, Charles E. , Jr.; Shaw, John D.; Goeking, Sara A.; Witt, Christopher; Menlove, James S.; Thompson, Mike T.; ; Amacher, Michael C.; Jovan, Sarah; Morgan, Todd A.; Sorenson, Colin B.; Hayes, Steven W.; McIver, Chelsea P., 2016. Utah's forest resources, 2003-2012
    Simmons, Eric A.; Hayes, Steven W.; Morgan, Todd A.; Keegan, Charles E. III; Witt, Christopher, 2014. Idaho's forest products industry and timber harvest, 2011
    Goeking, Sara A.; Shaw, John D.; Witt, Christopher; Thompson, Michael T.; Werstak, Charles E. , Jr.; Amacher, Michael C.; Stuever, Mary; Morgan, Todd A.; Sorenson, Colin B.; Hayes, Steven W.; McIver, Chelsea P., 2014. New Mexico's forest resources, 2008-2012
    Witt, Christopher; Shaw, John D.; Thompson, Michael T.; Goeking, Sara A.; Menlove, James S.; Amacher, Michael C.; Morgan, Todd A.; Werstak, Charles E. , Jr., 2012. Idaho's Forest Resources, 2004-2009
    Menlove, James S.; Shaw, John D.; Thompson, Michael T.; Witt, Christopher; Amacher, Michael C.; Morgan, Todd A.; Sorenson, Colin; McIver, Chelsea; Werstak, Charles E. , Jr., 2012. Montana's forest resources, 2003-2009
    An aerial view of a forest. FIA data have helped several National Forest planning teams to characterize land areas in terms of snags.
    Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data are long-term, comprehensive forest data sets potentially of great use for Forest Plan revisions, but it can be challenging to figure out how to best take advantage of this resource. A recently published article by RMRS researchers, Supporting National Forest System Planning with Forest Inventory and Analysis Data, provides examples that can help forest managers understand potential applications of FIA for forest planning and opportunities for pursuing additional innovative applications of this dataset.
    Pinyon jays perched atop berry-laden juniper tree.
    Over the past century, many pinyon-juniper woodlands in the Great Basin have expanded their range and increased their stand densities. These changes in structure and extent have effects on both the species that use the woodlands and to species whose habitat is being encroached by them. We observed and described where pinyon jays prefer to cache seeds in order to gain an understanding on how and where expansion and infill is likely to occur and to what extent jays are facilitating these processes.