Effectiveness and optimization of forest fuels reductions for biodiversity conservation in a changing Sierra Nevada ecosystem
Principal Investigator: M. Zachariah Peery, Ph.D.
Project Partners: LeRoy Westerling, Ph.D.; Gavin Jones, Ph.D.; John Keane, Ph.D.; Anu Kramer, Ph.D.; Connor Wood, Ph.D.
Institution: San Jose State University Research Foundation
Project Type: General Research
Grant Award #8GG19805
Amount awarded: $250,113
Award Date: September 2019
We will assess how wildlife communities have been affected by recent forest management and severe wildfire across the Sierra Nevada bioregion, and model the future effects of alternative fuels reductions strategies and altered fire activity on species constraining the pace and scale of fuels restoration. In doing so, we will:
• Assess the effectiveness of recent fuels management intended to reduce severe fire activity on public and private lands at an unprecedented scale (i.e., across the Sierra Nevada) in the currency of rare species and biodiversity measures indicative of forest health and integrity.
• Determine how bioregional-scale fuels reductions intended to reduce severe fire activity can be implemented in a manner that meets both forest restoration and species conservation objectives in the Sierra Nevada in a warming and drying climate.
To meet the latter objective, we will leverage recent advances in large-scale wildfire modeling techniques and wildlife survey methods that render accessible a previously intractable problem. Trade-offs will be modeled under a range of fuels reduction scenarios that differ in the spatial extent of treatments, the degree to which treatments modify forest structure, and the distribution of treatments on the landscape relative to habitat of sensitive species. Collectively, this work could provide a strong scientific basis for streamlining regulatory requirements and facilitating increases in both the scale and extent of fuels reductions and forest restoration efforts in the Sierra Nevada.
Jones, G. M., H. A. Kramer, W. J. Berigan, S. A. Whitmore, R. J. Gutiérrez, M. Z. Peery. (2021) Megafire causes persistent loss of an old-forest species. Animal Conservation. doi.org/10.1111/acv.12697
Wood, C. M., S. Kahl, P. Chaon, M. Z. Peery, and H Klinck (2021) Survey coverage, recording duration, and species composition affect observed species richness in passive acoustic surveys. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 12:885-896. doi.org/10.1111/2041-210X.13571