USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Research Topics Ecosystem Processes

Sierra Nevada Ecosystems

Development and Evaluation of Tools for Monitoring Ecosystem and Species Diversity across Landscapes

Research Project Summary

The Research

Red-Breasted SapsuckerInformation on the condition of populations and habitats of plants and animals is a primary tool for determining the status of progress toward maintaining or achieving desired conditions for ecosystem and species diversity across National Forest System lands. The development and implementation of Forest-scale monitoring as part of Land and Resource Management Plans has been challenging and progress has been slow. Two barriers appear consistent: 1) lack of clear monitoring objectives in terms that can be readily translated into sampling design specifications; and 2) lack of capacity or commitment to fund data collection, management. A consistent, nationally standardized monitoring program to obtain status and change data on species of concern and interest and ecosystem diversity on National Forest System (NFS) lands would greatly assist Regions and Forests in achieving monitoring objectives.


blue arrrow To develop and evaluate sampling designs, detection methods, and analysis procedures to efficiently obtain trend data on populations of multiple vertebrate species and their habitats at ecoregional scales.
blue arrrowTo demonstrate techniques to empirically derive indicators of ecosystem diversity
blue arrrowTo develop national guidance in the form of a NFS technical guide that outlines a protocol on how to monitor populations and habitats of multiple species in one integrated design.
blue arrrowTo provide technical advise on development and implementation of protocols and analysis techniques.

Methods and Design

Specifically, the MSIM Protocol consists of several detection methods employed in association with systematic grid of Forest Inventory and Analysis monitoring sites to obtain presence/absence data for a broad suite of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and plant species. Research is focused on testing the efficiency of various sampling design and analysis approaches. Examples include determining the relative statistical power to detect change of various sampling configurations for mist netting bats, evaluating the sampling intensity required to reliably and effectively estimate the probability of detection and proportion of sites occupied by individual species, and designing efficient habitat measurements that facilitate the development of habitat relationship models and accomplish habitat monitoring. Results of the research directly inform development of the national MSIM protocol.

Application of Research Results

Monitoring is required of land management agencies to assess the success of management activities in meeting legal, regulatory, and policy objectives, including sustaining populations of native and desired non-native species. A monitoring protocol that can efficiently and simultaneously obtain population and habitat data on a moderate number and variety of management indicator species is greatly needed by the National Forest System (NFS). Guidance on tools and techniques for data collection and analysis will help National Forests, Regions and the Forest Service accomplish its monitoring objectives.


map of the Sierra Nevada Ecoregion The project is national in scale; testing and evaluation was conducted in the Sierra Nevada in California.

Lead Scientists/Collaborators

1) Manley, Patricia N., 2)Van Horne, Beatrice, 3) Roth, Julie

1 USDA Forest Service
Sierra Nevada Research Center
2121 Second St., Suite A-101
Davis, CA 95616
ph: (703)-605-5294

2 USDA Forest Service
Wildlife, Fish, Watershed, and Air Research
Rosslyn Plaza C - 4th floor
1601 N. Kent St.
Arlington, VA 22209

3 USDA Forest Service
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
870 Emerald Bay Rd., Suite 1
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

Publications and Products

Manley, P. N., B. Van Horne, M. M. McKenzie, J. K. Roth, W. J. Zielinski, F. W. Weckerly, T. J. Weller, and C. Vojta. 2006. Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring protocol: a technical guide for monitoring animals and plants. General Technical Report PSW-GTR-73, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, D.C., USA.

Manley, P. N., M. D. Schlesinger, J. K. Roth, and B. Van Horne. 2005. A field-based evaluation of a presence-absence protocol for monitoring ecoregional-scale biodiversity. Journal of Wildlife Management 69(3):950-966.

Manley, P. N., and B. Van Horne. 2005. The Multiple Species Inventory and Monitoring protocol: a population, community, and biodiversity monitoring solution for National Forest System lands. In C. Aguirre-Bravo and others, eds. Monitoring science and technology symposium: unifying knowledge for sustainability in the Western Hemisphere. 2004 September 20-24; Denver, CO. Proceedings RMRS-P-37CD. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. CD-ROM.

Holthausen, R, R. Czaplewski, D. DeLorenzo, G. Hayward, W. Kessler, P. N. Manley, K. McKelvey, D. S. Powell, L. Ruggiero, M. Schwartz, B. Van Horne, and C. Vojta. 2005. Strategies for Monitoring Terrestrial Animals and Habitats. General Technical Report . GTR-RMRS-161. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins , Colorado, USA.

Manley, P. N., W. J. Zielinski, M. D. Schlesinger, and S. R. Mori. 2004. Evaluation of a multiple-species approach to monitoring species and ecosystem conditions at the ecoregional scale. Ecological Applications 14(1):296-310.

 Roth, J.K., P.N. Manley, M.M. McKenzie, M.D. Schlesinger. 2004. Multiple-species Inventory and Monitoring 2002 Monitoring Report. Unpublished report; U.S. Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, South Lake Tahoe , CA . 187 pp.