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Species and habitats at risk

January, 1990


The Endangered Species Act, the National Forest Management Act, and regulatory language issued pursuant to these statutes demonstrate the American publics’ concern over conservation of biological diversity. As a result, land managers are required to consider the needs of threatened, endangered, and sensitive species (TES species) on federal lands, including special habitat features that are required for maintaining persistent populations; this information is especially important in light of changing climates.

Canada lynx is a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Canada lynx is a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

In the absence of information on these species and their habitats, agencies frequently err on the side of the species and make conservative, and often unnecessary, decisions relative to habitat protection. Lack of information also can result in administrative appeals to management plans, lawsuits, and other administrative hurdles that limit the ability of land managers to achieve their mission.

Land managers require high-quality information on species and habitats at risk to develop effective management strategies. Specific research questions of interest include:

  • What environmental factors limit populations and distribution of species at risk (e.g., northern goshawks, wolverines, Canada lynx, fishers, black-backed woodpeckers, Mexican spotted owls)?
  • How can we objectively define habitat quality and identify important habitat components for selected species at risk?
  • How can we efficiently monitor abundance and population trend for species at risk?
  • What are the effects of fuels-reduction, forest restoration, and climate change on population dynamics and habitat quality of species at risk?

Key Findings

Scientists at the Rocky Mountain Research Station are addressing these manager needs through a variety of projects. Many of these studies result in management recommendations and strategies for a suite of species at risk. Other outcomes include:

  • Cost-effective monitoring protocols, both for single species of special concern and for suites of species.
  • Explicit evaluations of tradeoffs among various management strategies in terms of both single species of special concern and suites of interacting species.
  • Models evaluating the effects of climate and forest management on ecology and demography of selected species.

Related Science Spotlights


Latif, Quresh ; Saab, Victoria A. ; Dudley, Jonathan G. ; Hollenbeck, Jeff P. , 2013
Le Bras, Ronan ; Dilkina, Bistra ; Xue, Yexiang ; Gomes, Carla P. ; McKelvey, Kevin S. ; Schwartz, Michael K. ; Montgomery, Claire A. , 2013
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mexican Spotted Owl Recovery Team , 2012
Reynolds, Richard T. ; Graham, Russell T. ; Boyce, Douglas A. Jr. , 2008
Ruggiero, Leonard F. ; McKelvey, Kevin S. ; Aubry, Keith B. ; Copeland, Jeffrey P. ; Pletscher, Daniel H. ; Hornocker, Maurice G. , 2007
Boyce, Douglas A. Jr. ; Reynolds, Richard T. ; Graham, Russell T. , 2006
Ganey, Joseph L. ; White, Gary C. ; Bowden, David C. ; Franklin, Alan B. , 2004
Ruggiero, Leonard F. ; Aubry, Keith B. ; Buskirk, Steven W. ; Koehler, Gary M. ; Krebs, Charles J. ; McKelvey, Kevin S. ; Squires, John R. , 1999
White, Gary C. ; Block, William M. ; Ganey, Joseph L. ; Moir, William H. ; Ward, James P. Jr. ; Franklin, Alan B. ; Spangle, Steven L. ; Rinkevich, Sarah E. ; Vahle, J. Robert ; Howe, Frank P. ; Dick, James L. Jr. , 1999
Ruggiero, Leonard F. ; Aubry, Keith B. ; Buskirk, Steven W. ; Lyon, L. Jack ; Zielinski, William J. , 1994
Reynolds, Richard T. ; Graham, Russell T. ; Reiser, M. Hildegard , 1992

Principal Investigators:
U.S. Fish & Wildlife's Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative
USFS National Forest System
U.S. Geological Survey