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Wildlife and Wildlife Habitats

Bull Trout

Bull trout are a native fish constrained to stream headwaters by cold water temperatures. To assess possible effects of climate change across the range of this species, Boise Aquatic Sciences Lab scientists have developed models predicting lower elevation limits of bull trout populations relative to air temperature. Various climate scenarios have been explored with these models and suggest that even modest warming could substantially reduce the area of bull trout habitat. Fragmentation of large habitat patches necessary for long-term species persistence appears to proceed even faster than a loss of habitat area and these losses are non-uniform across the species' range. Some populations are at greater risk from climate change than others and this work can be used to help prioritize conservation management.

Contact Dan Isaak or Charlie Luce for additional information.

Effects of Climate Change and Wildfire

Effects of climate change and wildfire on thermal habitat structure in streams. Many native salmonid fishes are strongly dependent on interconnected networks of cold water. Climate change could substantially reduce and fragment these networks by warming air temperatures, altering stream flows, and reducing riparian shade through increased wildfire. Scientists at the Boise Aquatic Sciences Lab are building models to assess the effects of these factors and measure potential habitat reductions associated with stream temperature alteration across stream networks. In 2007 we will replicate a study conducted in 1996/97 to validate the models and estimate the rate of change in populations constrained by thermal gradients. Long term monitoring in several streams suggests that drought and warming have contributed to a 2 C or more increase in summer mean temperature of some streams. We have been invited to collaborate on a proposal with a Canadian research group to adapt these tools for application at the scale of the entire Columbia River basin.

Contact Dan Isaak or Charlie Luce for additional information.


RMRS scientists have shown that historical wolverine distribution was highly correlated with persistent snow. Genetic analysis reinforced these understandings and showed that the occurrence patterns had been present for at least 2,000 years. Wolverine's snow association is likely due to the location of reproductive dens in snow. We are currently collaborating with Scandinavian scientists to ascertain whether European wolverines are also snow-dependent when denning. Additionally we are working with the University of Montana and and the USGS to project snow patterns into the future and determine the likely effects of snow cover changes on wolverines. More information is to be found in this publication.

Contact Keven McKelvey for additional information.

Canada Lynx

RMRS scientists are currently developing landscape-level habitat relationships for Canada lynx. These relationships include direct links to environmental variables such as temperature and snow cover, as well as indirect links such as forest type. These models can be linked to future projections of forested landscapes, snow cover, and temperature. To predict the specific effects of climate change on lynx RMRS scientists are cooperating with other scientists in the development habitat projections.

Contact John Squires for additional information.

Pacific Northwest Wildlife Habitat

RMRS scientists are collaborating with scientists from the Pacific Northwest Station and the University of Washington to develop methods to generate forested landscapes given climate change. These landscapes will be linked to multi-scale wildlife habitat models currently under development at RMRS. More information can be found in this publication.

Contact Sam Cushman for additional information.