Date: October 19, 2016
Source: Central Ornithology Publication Office
Two new papers from The Condor: Ornithological Applications demonstrate the complex challenges involved in balancing the management of fire-prone landscapes with the needs of wildlife in the American West.
Salvage logging after a wildfire can provide economic benefits for local communities that depend on the timber industry, but what about birds that rely on recently burned habitat for foraging and nesting? Quresh Latif and Victoria Saab of the U.S. Forest Service and their colleagues assessed how well mathematical models predicting species distributions and guiding management decisions transfer from one location to another. Surveying for Black-backed and Lewis's woodpecker nests in three locations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho that had burned within the last five years, they used the data they collected to develop habitat suitability models and then tested model performance at alternate locations. While models that included habitat data collected in the field did better than models that relied only on remote sensing, the models' overall transferability was limited.
"Broadly applicable predictive models will require integration of field data from multiple wildfire locations," says Saab. "We hope that managers will apply the habitat suitability models for post-fire forest management planning and decisions in close proximity locations to where the model was developed."