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Pacific Northwest Research Station
Blue Mountains National Resources Institute

Forestry and Range Sciences Laboratory
1401 Gekeler Lane
La Grande, OR 97850

United States Forest Service.

BMNRI Home > Publications > Conferences > Seminar Series > Landscape Ecology and Management

Conference Proceedings

Seminar Series

The following list of seminar topics cover a broad range of land management issues in the Blue Mountains area of northeast Oregon and southeast Washington. The Blue Mountains Natural Resources Institute and other organizations sponsored the series to help bring new ideas and innovative management techniques to audiences throughout both states. Now the information is available in complete form either in special editions of the Natural Resource News, or as a series of videotapes. Click on any of the seminar titles below for more information about the seminar.

Landscape Ecology and Management Topics
Timber Harvesting Systems for Forest Health
Riparian Restoration and Monitoring Workshop
Cottonwood and Aspen: Managing for Balance, Ecology, and Management
Noxious Weeds: Stemming the Tide
Soil: The Foundation of the Ecosystem
Watersheds: The Critical Link
Fire Ecology and Management in the Blue Mountains

Landscape Ecology and Management Topics Seminars

A series of seminars were presented in the Forestry and Range Sciences Lab in La Grande, October 3, November 14, and December 5, 1996.

If you would like to see the online version of this Seminar, click here to see the Winter 1996 edition of Natural Resource News. The sessions are also on videotape through our Video Lending Library.

Session One:

The first session was Broadscale Assessments of Land-Use Effects on Fishes of the Interior Columbia River Basin by Danny C. Lee and Bruce E. Rieman of the Intermountain Research Station in Boise. They reported on their work on the aquatic assessment for the Interior Columbia River Basin Ecosystem Management Project. Information was gathered form existing sources and by surveying 150 biologists for their classification of streams where data did not exist. Data were gathered for 164 subbasins and then aggregated. The result was groupings of watersheds with similar distributions of fish species. Species richness and number of exotics versus native species was also examined.

More detailed information was gathered for key salmonids and their habitat that was then used to extrapolate to get fish status on the entire area. Some species are faring better than others, but the general picture is of fragmentation and isolation of species because of agricultural development, dams, water diversions, roads, stream channelization, and disruptive land use practices. Exotic species are also a major concern. Even without further habitat loss or degradation, we may well see a continued decline in fish populations.

Forest resource concerns were combined with aquatic habitat status and some similarities were found. Three types of watersheds were described: those that are high quality and can act as templates; those that are somewhat degraded but still contain elements of functional systems; and those that are severely fragmented by dams, habitat loss, or presense of exotic species. Areas that are high quality for both aquatic and forest ecosystems are candidates for conservation. Areas that are low quality for both (generally areas with many roads) are not likely to yield much result from restoration. All other areas in between show promise for recovery. They suggest concentrating restoration work both in space and time to allow for longer periods of recovery without entry. We might begin first in heavily roaded areas and then remove many roads when the work is done.

Session Two:

The second presentation was Landscape Analysis in Ecosystem Management: Modeling Process and Pattern by Steve Garman, Terrestrial Ecologist at OSU. Garman described his work in attempting to identify past disturbance factors and their sequence from satellite maps and aerial photos. He created patterns by using models that simulate spread of fire and bark beetle infestations of different intensities under two moisture regimes. The resulting patterns were then analyzed using total mean basal area, and spatial metrics—"nearest neighbor" and "total edge"—to see if the particular disturbance and disturbance sequence causing the pattern could be determined.

Garman found that there are some conditions in which pattern metrics could identify the process but that the resolution of the data used makes a big difference in success. The simulations used were extreme simplifications of actual disturbances, and this work is preliminary serving to identify possibilities for further investigation.

Session Three:
The third seminar was presented by Andy Hansen of Montana State University on Mechanisms that Drive Bird Species Diversity in Yellowstone National Park. His work examined how human population growth surrounding nature reserves are affecting the ecology of those ecosystems. Often the same features that make an area a "hot spot" for plant and animal species and diversity also attract human communities.

Vertebrate ecologists typically look at plant cover type and seral stage and structure to explain species richness. Recently there have been studies that look at abiotic factors such as climate and elevation. One study found that potential evapotranspiration explained over 92 percent of the variation in species richness. Variables such as energy availiblity of a site, may explain much of species distribution. Hansen found a strong correlation of bird species distribution with elevation.

Mapping human disturbance/use and natural disturbance was also informative. The natural disturbance caused by fire resulted in much more heterogeneity across the landscape than did logging practices that were used. Hansen pointed out that the percentage of forest in mature and old-growth historically ranged from 15 percent to 95 percent in the Yellowstone system. Thus the concept of staying within the natural range of variability has little meaning as a management objective.

Hansen further showed that even in unaltered cottonwood habitats, the bird reproductive success was affected by uses in the surrounding areas: cowbirds from agricultural areas killed many young of other birds that nested in cottonwood in unaltered riparian areas.

Hansen concluded that it is important to identify hot spots and to understand what makes them "hot," such as primary production potential and abiotic factors. Knowing this can enable us to identify other potential hot spots where the vegetation has been altered and can be restored.

US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station, Blue Mountains National Resources Institute
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:44 CST

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