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Quresh Latif

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Researcher Ecologist

1648 South 7th Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59717-2780
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Current Research

  1. Applying and evaluating habitat suitability models and occupancy models to describe and understand cavity nesting and other forest bird distributions in relation to large-scale disturbance and forest management activities (for example project, see
  2. Differences in avian community responses to natural forest disturbance and management treatment with varying historic disturbance regime.
  3. Simulation-based evaluation of statistical power and sampling design for regional occupancy-based monitoring of white-headed woodpeckers in the Pacific Northwest.
  4. Development of GIS-based tools to apply habitat suitability and fire control models for informing forest & fire management (collaborations with Human Dimensions).
  5. Factors influencing snag persistence and implications for disturbance-associated woodpeckers following mountain pine beetle outbreak.

Research Interests

  1. Application of ecological models to inform conservation and management of sensitive species.
  2. Coupling data analysis with simulations to improve inferences made from ecological models.
  3. Hierarchical modeling and integrated data analysis for robust ecological inference.
  4. Methodological and analytical approaches to monitoring populations and communities.
  5. Causes and consequences of habitat selection in animals.

Past Research

  1. Review of literature examining ecological consequences of mountain pine beetle outbreaks for wildlife (co-authored manuscript published).
  2. Arthropod community dynamics in relation to mustard invasion in the Coachella Valley, CA (co-authored manuscript published).
  3. Nest site selection and nest predation dynamics for Yellow Warblers in the Mono Lake basin (dissertation research; 4 manuscripts published in various journals).
  4. Modeling seasonal detection patterns to inform population monitoring of burrowing owls (manuscript published).


  • University of California, Riverside, Ph.D., Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology. Dissertation topic: Nest-site selection and predation dynamics for an open-cup nesting songbird, the Yellow Warbler., 2009
  • University of California, Davis, B.S., Wildlife ecology and conservation, 1998
  • Professional Experience

    Associate Editor, Journal of Wildlife Management
    2016 to present

    Oversee peer review for manuscripts on various topics in wildlife population ecology, modeling, and management.
    post-doctoral researcher, Rocky Mountain Research Station, U.S. Forest Service
    2011 to present

    This position involves developing species distribution models and occupancy models for forest woodpeckers and bird communities. I work with various types of habitat suitability models to analyze environmental relationships with species occurrence and estimate species distributions. I also develop occupancy models in both Bayesian and frequentist frameworks to analyze habitat relationships and population trends for individual species or bird community responses to large-scale disturbance (fire, mountain pine beetle outbreak, and logging). In the course of this work, I have developed familiarity and expertise with statistical analysis in R, development of Bayesian models in WinBUGS, and projection of model outputs using GIS software. I have advised design of a long-term effectiveness monitoring study as part of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) to examine wildlife responses to forest management treatments. I have also provided guidance, advice, feedback, and training in implementation of analytic techniques to graduate students. In addition to research, I am developing and populating Access databases to organize, store, and improve data accessibility.
    post-doctoral researcher, Center for Conservation Biology, U.C. Riverside
    2010 to 2011

    This position involved the study of species of conservation concern under the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. I focused much of my time on analyzing burrowing distributional data using both occupancy models and presence-only distribution modeling techniques. I also conducted surveys of animal and plant species, including endangered species, in aeolian sand habitats for population and community monitoring under the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan. Survey techniques employed included surveying vertebrates by censusing their tracks, pitfall trapping for sampling arthropods, quadrat sampling for plant surveys, and measurement of sand compaction using a sand penetrometer. I also developed and populated a database to store the data from these surveys and developed analytic approaches to answer research questions of concern for adaptive management of protected species. Data analyses were carried out using various software: R, ArcGIS, Presence, and MaxEnt.


    Certificate of Merit, 2014
    Awarded for developing relational databases for more than twenty years of data collected for the Birds and Burns Network across the Interior West and for regional monitoring of White-headed Woodpeckers in the Inland Northwest. $750.
    Travel Award, 2009
    Student Travel Award for the ESA annual meeting
    Travel Award, 2009
    Student Travel Award for the AOU/COS joint meeting
    Research Grant, 2008
    Distinguished Fellowship in Biology (UCR Biology Department)
    Research Grant, 2007
    Mono Basin Bird Chautaqua Grant (Mono Lake Committee)
    Research Grant, 2007
    Dissertation Research Grant (UC Riverside)
    Equipment Grant, 2002
    Partners in Flight grant for nest-monitoring video camera systems

    Featured Publications


    Saab, Victoria A.; Latif, Quresh; Dresser, Matthew A.; Dudley, Jonathan G., 2019. Woodpecker nest survival, density, and a pine beetle outbreak
    Latif, Quresh; Saab, Victoria A.; Haas, Jessica R.; Dudley, Jonathan G., 2018. FIRE-BIRD: A GIS-based toolset for applying habitat suitability models to inform land management planning
    Kelly, Julia J.; Latif, Quresh; Saab, Victoria A.; Veblen, Thomas T., 2018. Spruce beetle outbreaks guide American Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides dorsalis occupancy patterns in subalpine forests
    VanTassel, Heather L. Hulton; Hansen, Anne M.; Barrows, Cameron W.; Latif, Quresh; Simon, Margaret W.; Anderson, Kurt E., 2014. Declines in a ground-dwelling arthropod community during an invasion by Sahara mustard (Brassica tournefortii) in aeolian sand habitats
    Latif, Quresh; Fleming, Kathleen D.; Barrows, Cameron; Rotenberry, John T., 2012. Modeling seasonal detection patterns for burrowing owl surveys
    Latif, Quresh; Heath, Sacha K.; Ballard, Grant, 2012. The nest predator assemblage for songbirds in Mono Lake basin riparian habitats
    Latif, Quresh; Grenier, J. Letitia; Heath, Sacha K.; Ballard, Grant; Hauber, Mark E., 2006. First evidence of conspecific brood parasitism in song sparrows with comments on methods sufficient to document this behavior
    BBN_emblem.jpg – Birds and Burns Network emblem
    Researchers studied avian relationships with wildfire to evaluate forest fire and fuels management strategies. Specifically, they document regional differences associated with historical fire regime with implications for broadly implemented strategies aimed at reducing severe wildfire risk. The results suggest that avian-fire relationships differ regionally, and therefore the best management practices for conserving or restoring avian diversity likely differ with historical fire regime.
    Photo: LEWIS WOOD BERRIESem.jpg; caption – Lewis’s Woodpecker most frequently nests in relatively open, recently burned forests with large diameter snags.
    Increases in forest fires are expected with future changes in climate, allowing more opportunities for post-fire salvage logging. Forest managers are challenged with implementing post-fire management policies while concurrently meeting the requirements of existing laws and planning documents to maintain habitat for wildlife species associated with snags. Design criteria for post-fire salvage logging is needed to concurrently manage for economic benefits and wildlife habitat.
    Habitat suitability models provide critical information needed for forest management plans to accommodate biodiversity conservation. We are developing GIS-based application tools for forest managers that requires minimal technical expertise to create habitat maps.
    Synergistic interactions of climate change, mountain pine beetle infestations, and wildfire are likely to catalyze landscape-scale changes in vegetation distributions, successional stage, forest structure, and wildlife habitat suitability. Our research will provide forest managers with information they need to project changes to habitat suitability for wildlife under a range of alternative climate and management scenarios.
    We are integrating multiple datasets, statistical modeling tools, and simulation approaches to quantify habitat and predict population responses by woodpecker and other wildlife species of conservation concern to natural disturbance (wildfire, bark beetle outbreaks) and forest management activities to inform adaptive management of dry conifer forests.
    Innovative quantitative approaches have been developed for evaluating wildfire and prescribed fire effects on wildlife communities in several western North American national forests.