CURRENT PROJECTS

Forest Management Effects on Species of Conservation Concern: Wood Turtles and Golden-winged Warblers

Project Start: Apr 2020, Projected End: May 2022

Member companies of the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO) own and manage >18.6 million ha for timber in the US. One of the most influential federal policies affecting working forests in the US is the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which regulates harm to listed animal species. Prior to federal designation as threatened or endangered, species proposed for listing (i.e., candidate species) undergo a status review that involves a thorough summation of extant information that aids the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in making a determination. Basic information on candidate species is sometimes lacking, but the USFWS is still legally obligated to protect species, oftentimes making precautionary decisions in the absence of information. In some instances, basic knowledge on candidate species can greatly inform the listing process and decision, ultimately guiding the determination of permissible land management activities in areas where the species occurs. The USFWS and private forest landowners recognize the value of proactively collecting these data, particularly for species presumably protected under existing best management or sustainable forestry practices. Our lab was awarded the contract to collect information on wood turtles and golden-winged warblers in Michigan.

Eastern Massasauga Road Ecology and Population Dynamics in Michigan

Project Start: Apr 2020, Projected End: Sep 2022

The Michigan Department of Transportation manages thousands of mile of road-right-of-ways in Michigan. Some of these roads pass through habitats occupied by federally protected massasauga rattlesnakes. Although MDOT has worked with the USFWS on mitigating potential impacts of right-of-way maintenance activities on massasaugas, questions remain on how and when the snakes use right-of-ways. MDOT recognized the importance of answering these questions as a means to develop and implement management that voids harming snakes. Our lab was awarded the contract to conduct this work.

Integrating Information to Manage Landscapes for Featured Species

Project Start: May 2018, Projected End: May 2020

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources - Wildlife Division recognized that current habitat management decisions made by MDNR staff are not often based on a coordinated, landscape-level context. They recognized the need for a tool to effectively portray existing data and scientific outputs and map landscape-level decisions for wildlife. This system should retain this information, accept new information as it is generated, and provide a legacy of management decisions. We are piloting this project on 4 species of management interest to MDNR, starting with American marten and snowshoe hare.

Ruffed Grouse Nesting and Survival in Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Project Start: Jan 2018, Projected End: Aug 2020

The Inland Wildlife Department (IWD) of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians identified a need for information on ruffed grouse survival and recruitment to better understand population-level consequences of decreasing aspen as a result of climate change. On cooperation with IWD, AFWEL will quantify attributes associated with ruffed grouse nesting and brood-rearing habitat and, using radio telemetry, quantify adult and brood survival. This study will occur across a gradient of aspen amounts in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan

Understanding Deer Interactions with Northern Hardwood Regeneration Techniques

Project Start: Aug 2017, Projected End: Aug 2027

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) recognized that standard selection silviculture in northern hardwood forests of Michigan was not resulting in adequate regeneration. Causes for regeneration challenges are thought to include the cumulative effects of herbivory (primarily by deer), a long selection harvest legacy, insect and disease outbreaks, and climate change. Working collaboratively with MDNR and the Department of Forestry at Michigan State University, AFWEL implemented a large experiment to evaluate the effects of alternative silvicultural approaches for improving regeneration success of northern hardwood forests.

Wildlife Responses to Structural Retention in Pacific Northwest Clearcuts

Project Start: May 2016, Projected End: Dec 2020

Funded by the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI), this project seeks to understand wildlife response to the spatial arrangement and amount of structural retention in clearcut forests of the Pacific Northwest. Working with NCASI and cooperating landowners, AFWEL implemented a randomized block design (10 blocks, 5 treatments per block) with blocks ranging from St Helens, Washington, to central Oregon. In contrast to other retention studies conducted in this region, our focal taxa are small mammals and Carabid beetles.

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