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Dr. Scheller presenting Fisher research on Thursday, March 22 at Society for Northwest Vertebrate Biology

posted Mar 21, 2012, 7:13 AM by Robert Scheller   [ updated Mar 21, 2012, 10:11 AM ]
Dr. Scheller will be presenting, 'Using stochastic simulation to support carnivore management in the PNW' at 9:20am.  The SNVB annual conference is being held in Hood River, Oregon:

Title:  Disturbance Regimes, Competing Objectives, and the Limits to Science: Using Stochastic Simulation to Support Carnivore Management

Abstract:  Disturbances may effect the management of carnivore populations, particularly if their habitat needs are specialized or their habitat fragmented.  Wildfire, insect outbreaks, harvesting, and fuels management can all reduce habitat quality for carnivores and further fragment available habitat.  Climate change could exacerbate these effects if the risk of large or severe disturbances increases.  I will present a case study from the Sierra Nevada of California, where crown-replacing wildfires threaten fisher (Martes pennanti) habitat over broad areas.  Proposals to thin vegetation to reduce wildfire risks have been controversial because fuel treatments would also adversely affect fisher populations but may provide protection from the most severe fires.  Simultaneously, climate change may increase the risk of wildfire to fisher habitat.  The effects of wildfires and fuels management on fisher habitat and population size were simulated using multiple models. The simulated immediate negative effects of fuel treatments were compared to the longer-term positive effect of fuel treatment.  Results indicated that the positive effects of fuel treatments on fisher populations are generally larger than their negative effects, because fuels treatments reduced the probability of large wildfires.  Analysis of such trade-offs are increasingly imperative as management seeks to optimize multiple goals (e.g., maintain habitat, reduce fire risk, produce timber) while being simultaneously constrained by the risk of large climate change effects.  However, there was large uncertainty in our projections due to stochastic disturbances and population dynamics, demonstrating the difficulty of projecting carnivore populations in systems characterized by large, infrequent, stochastic disturbances.