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Scheller Speaking at The Wildlife Society meeting on Northern Spotted Owl Habitat

posted Oct 15, 2012, 10:17 AM by Robert Scheller

This Wednesday, Dr. Scheller will be presenting recent research finding at The Wildlife Society Annual Conference. The conference is being held in Portland, Oregon this year.  He will discuss northern spotted owl habitat and wildfire risks in eastern Washington.

Title:  Projected dry forest landscape dynamics and the implications for Northern Spotted Owl habitat under alternative management scenarios. 

Authors:  Robert M. Scheller, Erik Haunreiter, Rebecca Kennedy, and Peter Singleton.

Abstract:  Policymakers and land managers are required to maintain or increase populations of the threatened Northern Spotted Owl (NSO; Strix occidentalis caurina) while reducing wildfire risk in dry, fire-prone forests of the Pacific Northwest.  Specifically, managers must address the need for dynamic, shifting habitat mosaics in portions of the eastern Cascades of Oregon and Washington, and northern California.  Our research seeks to elucidate the interactions among vegetation, wildfires, and NSO habitat in the Deschutes (OR) and Wenatchee (WA) National Forests. Our objectives: 1) quantify and map wildfire risk to NSO habitat; 2) determine short-term effects of vegetation and fuels management on fire risk and NSO habitat; and 3) project long-term dynamics of NSO habitat.  We used a simulation modeling approach, combining LADS (a state-and-transition forest model with simulated wildfires and fuel treatments) and the HEXSIM individual-based population model.  We simulated multiple scenarios of forest management representing a range of practical and theoretical management actions.  Our results indicate that a policy of no fuels management or harvesting would marginally increase the quality of NSO habitat across both national forests.  However, as fuel treatments increase in extent and intensity, the benefits to NSO habitat substantially increase.  Our research provides innovative modeling procedures and results, maps depicting locations most prone to large wildfires, examples of prescriptions promoting habitat development while minimizing likelihood of large high severity fires, and projections of long-term habitat dynamics.