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Improving access to habitat models to inform forest management plans

Date: May 20, 2015

New tools aid management for species of concern

Ensemble habitat suitability predictions for nesting black-backed woodpeckers for the Star Gulch Fire in Idaho (Latif et al. 2013)
Ensemble habitat suitability predictions for nesting black-backed woodpeckers for the Star Gulch Fire in Idaho (Latif et al. 2013)
Habitat suitability models can inform habitat management for species of conservation concern. Models quantify environmental relationships with known species locations, allowing identification and mapping of areas likely to support species of concern. Managers can then design activities to mitigate negative impacts in these areas. Application of habitat models is often outside the technical capabilities of managers and resource specialists. RMRS scientists are developing GIS tools that facilitate model application and map creation to help guide habitat management for woodpecker species of conservation concern (i.e., black-backed woodpecker [Picoides arcticus], three-toed woodpecker [P. dorsalis], Lewis’s woodpecker [Melanerpes lewis], and white-headed woodpeckers [P. albolvartus]).

The tools operate within an ArcGIS environment, making habitat suitability models widely available. The GIS tool will be accompanied by a manual describing tool implementation and interpretation of resulting habitat maps. These tools will identify suitable habitat for disturbance specialists (e.g., black-backed, three-toed, and Lewis’s woodpeckers) and will aid in effective management of disturbed landscapes, such as after wildfire and bark beetle infestations. The information generated with our GIS tool will help in avoiding litigation over wildlife species of  conservation concern. Additionally, these tools will facilitate application of models to hypothetical landscapes that reflect alternative climate, disturbance, and management scenarios to inform long-term management planning. A prototype tool for black-backed woodpeckers has been successfully implemented by U.S. Forest Service biologists, and we are improving the tool with their feedback.


Featured Publications

Latif, Quresh ; Saab, Victoria A. ; Mellen-Mclean, Kim ; Dudley, Jonathan G. , 2015
Latif, Quresh ; Saab, Victoria A. ; Dudley, Jonathan G. ; Hollenbeck, Jeff P. , 2013

Forest Service Partners: 
Additional Principal Investigator: Jessica R. Haas (Forest Service Research & Development)

Forest Service Partners: Kim Mellen-McLean (Pacific Northwest Region), Jodie E. Canfield (Northern Region), Anna E. Egnew (Intermountain Region)
External Partners: 
Additional Principal Investigator: Martha M. Ellis (University of Montana)