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Weekly Highlights for 9-8-2017

Upcoming

USGS Research, Award to be Presented at The Wildlife Society Meeting

Oregon State University Students advised by USGS wildlife biologist Joan Hagar will present posters at The Wildlife Society annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, September 23-27. Marisa Specht will present information about the distribution and habitat associations of Pacific fisher, American marten, and Sierra Nevada red fox in the Klamath network parks. Lorelle Sherman will present her work to study the distribution and habitat associations of purple martins in early seral forest habitats of western Oregon. Also at the meeting, USGS wildlife biologist David Wiens will be awarded the outstanding monograph award from The Wildlife Society for his 2014 paper titled “Competitive interactions and resource partitioning between northern spotted owls and barred owls in western Oregon.”

Contact: Carrie Phillips, FRESC, 541-750-1038, Profile

Current

Seventy Years of Vegetation Restoration Treatment Trends

To summarize trends in land treatment actions in the southwestern United States, USGS researchers studied approximately 4000 vegetation treatments conducted on BLM land from 1940 to 2010 by analyzing entries in the Land Treatment Digital Library. They discovered that since 1940, the proportions of seedings and vegetation or soil manipulations have declined, while the proportions of prescribed burn and invasive species treatments have increased. Managers are increasingly using more diverse native species in seeding treatments. Restoration-focused objectives increased relative to resource-extraction objectives. Treatments in pinyon-juniper woodlands were by far the most common, yet have declined in comparison to treatments in desert scrub, creosote bush, and riparian communities. Inflation-adjusted cost per area nearly tripled over the 70 year period. Results suggest that characteristics of BLM treatments across the southwestern United States have changed substantially, with increasing focus on restoration practices that are relatively larger and more expensive. A USGS press release about this paper was published on September 6.

Copeland, S.M., Munson, S.M., Pilliod, D.S., Welty, J.L., Bradford, J.B., Butterfield, B.J., 2017, Long-term trends in restoration and associated land treatments in the southwestern United States: Restoration Ecology, p. online, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/rec.12574[Details]

Contact: David Pilliod, FRESC, 208-426-5202, Profile

Correlates of Immune Defenses in Golden Eagle Nestlings

Avian immune defenses can vary based on intrinsic factors, such as life stage, as well as extrinsic factors, such as habitat and exposure to parasites. Researchers investigated how immune response in nestling golden eagles from California, Idaho, and Oregon was affected by geographic region, parasite load, body condition, sex, and age. They examined constitutive immunity by measuring bacterial-killing ability and hemolytic-complement activity in plasma samples of 96 birds. As expected, immune function in golden eagle nestlings varied geographically and was impacted by parasite load, yet body condition and age did not affect immune defenses. Oregon golden eagles had elevated immune defenses, potentially because they were exposed to more parasites than eagles from California or Idaho. Researchers also found evidence that golden eagle nestlings that were in better condition invested less energy in constitutive immunity. This research contributes to the understanding of the evolutionary and environmental pressures on immune function in birds, in particular, wild, long-lived raptors.

MacColl, E., Vanesky, K., Buck, J.A., Dudek, B.M., Eagles-Smith, C.A., Heath, J.A., Herring, G., Vennum, C., Downs, C.J., 2017, Correlates of immune defenses in golden eagle nestlings: Journal of Experimental Zoology, p. online, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jez.2081[Details]

Contact: Collin Eagles-Smith, FRESC, 541-750-0949, Profile

Harvest Treatments Affect Properties of Snags Created for Wildlife Habitat

Snags provide habitat for a wide range of organisms from cavity-nesting birds to insects, and are critical for maintaining forest biodiversity. Resource managers can create snags by topping trees to mitigate loss of snags to timber harvest, but information regarding changes in habitat for snag-dependent wildlife over time as created snags decay is lacking. Oregon State University and USGS scientists examined the influence of different harvest treatments on characteristics of large, Douglas-fir snags created 25–27 years ago. Although a large proportion, 91 percent, of the 690 snags created remained standing in contemporary surveys, snags created in harvests that retained few live trees had greater decay compared to snags in less intensive timber harvests. However, bird use was greatest for snags in the most intensive harvest treatment. Results indicate that the influence of harvest treatment on decay patterns and subsequent use by wildlife is an important consideration when intentionally creating snags for wildlife habitat.

Barry, A.M., Hagar, J.C., Rivers, J.W., 2017, Long-term dynamics and characteristics of snags created for wildlife habitat: Forest Ecology and Management, v. 403, no. 2017, p. 145-151, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2017.07.049[Details]

Contact: Joan Hagar, FRESC, 541-750-0984, Profile

New Study: Phasing Herbicide, Drill Seeding, and Grazing Resumption in Post-Fire Sagebrush Steppe

Post-fire management interventions in the sagebrush steppe often combine treatments, such as applying herbicides to reduce exotic annuals or seeding desirable perennials. Phasing these different treatment types in different post-fire years may optimize effects and increase a site’s ability to withstand impacts of resuming livestock grazing. In a new study, researchers will measure how vegetation responds to phasing of land management actions - specifically herbicide spraying, drill seeding, and resumption of grazing - in the first few years following wildfire in sagebrush steppe. They will assess the relative abundance of exotic annual and desirable perennial grasses with respect to different sequences of seeding and spraying, and determine how treatments contribute to a sites resistance, resilience, and ability to withstand grazing. This research will provide information to rangeland managers about if and how to combine and phase herbicide and seeding treatments.


Contact: Matthew Germino, FRESC, 208-426-3353, Profile

Press Inquiries/Media

High Country News Article Highlights USGS Research on the Elwha

USGS wildlife biologist Rebecca McCaffery was quoted in a High Country News article about the Elwha River. The article was published on September 4. McCaffery is studying the roles of wildlife in lakebed restoration following Elwha River dam removals.


Contact: Rebecca McCaffery, FRESC, 360-565-3043, Profile

Reporter Requests Information from USGS Raptor Expert

Mike Cherney, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal based in Australia, contacted USGS wildlife biologist and raptor expert Todd Katzner on September 5. Cherney is writing an article about eagles’ aggressive behavior toward drones.  


Contact: Todd Katzner, FRESC, 208-426-5232, Profile

Earth Island Journal Quotes USGS Ecologist in Article About Wildlife Lead Poisoning

USGS ecologist Garth Herring was quoted in an article written by journalist Jim Yuskavitch about lead ammunition and its effects on wildlife. Herring was lead author on a PLOS one paper published in December 2016 summarizing research about lead exposure of raptors feeding on carcasses left by recreational ground squirrel hunters. The article appeared in the Autumn 2017 edition of Earth Island Journal. Yuskavitch mischaracterized Herring’s research as part of efforts to reduce lead ammunition use by hunters, and he made a number of factual errors in describing research results. 


Contact: Ken Berg, FRESC, 541-750-1035, Profile

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