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Individual Highlight

Landscape Variability Compensates for Fuel Reduction Treatments

Photo of Northern flying squirrel. iStock.Northern flying squirrel. iStock.Snapshot : While tree thinning had a negative effect on northern flying squirrel density within a thinning treatment unit, research results suggested that these effects were largely absorbed by the heterogeneous landscape, as animals shifted their distribution into unthinned areas without a decline in overall density. This study highlights the need to incorporate a landscape perspective when evaluating the effects of forest management on wildlife.

Principal Investigators(s) :
White, Angela M. 
Research Location : Stanislaus Experimental Forest
Research Station : Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW)
Year : 2016
Highlight ID : 1070


Fuel reduction treatments typically are designed for and applied to individual stands imbedded within larger landscapes, leading to a forest with a mosaic of treated and untreated areas. Studying the effect of treatments on wildlife at the stand level provides valuable information about immediate impacts, but neglects this larger-scale heterogeneity, i.e. the landscape context. Forest Service research results illustrate this important stand-landscape interaction and its implications for understanding wildlife responses to fuel-reduction treatments. Within treatment units, thinning had a negative effect on the density of northern flying squirrels; however, patterns of density across a larger spatial scale showed that northern flying squirrels shifted their distribution within the landscape out of thinned units and toward unharvested areas that retained greater canopy closure.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Rahel Sollmann, University of California Davis