US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Deahn Donner

Project Leader / Landscape Ecologist
5985 Highway K
United States

Phone: 715-362-1146
Contact Deahn Donner

Current Research

Current research focuses on (1) applying metapopulation, island biogeography, and gradient theoretical frameworks to examine how spatial and temporal habitat loss and fragmentation from changing land-use patterns affect biodiversity, (2) examining how forest management and restoration activities affect large-scale wildlife dispersal, habitat use, and conservation for multiple species groups to better link and integrate empirical evidence with theory, and (3) understanding the impacts of removing harvest residues (i.e., woody biomass) from native forests on biodiversity and other ecological services these forests provide. Several studies are using long-term monitoring and inventory data to determine how local and landscape factors influence populations (e.g., amphibians in vernal pools, beaver colonization events along trout streams across northern Wisconsin). Results have implications to current best management practices. I'm continuing research on the federally endangered Kirtland's Warbler with most recent activities assessing potential impacts of changing climate on the viability of Kirtland's Warblers by linking habitat and population stressors across winter and breeding grounds (i.e., migratory connectivity and full life-cycle modeling), analyzing 25 years of resighting records to determine short- and long-term dispersal movements during time periods with varying amounts of suitable habitat and populations levels, and how landscape factors have influenced brown-headed cowbirds trapping efficiencies over the past 25 years in Kirltand's Warbler Managerment Areas. I am also working with an interdisciplinary team investigating landscape resistance to movement and dispersal of wide-ranging species using landscape genetic approaches. Landscape genetics link large-scale landscape patterns iwth organism movement to determine how landscape features regulate populations. These approaches are being used to study coyote movements in New York, movement pattern of bats among winter hibernacula and summer roost sites, which also incorporates accoustic monitoring to determine movement patterns immediately following spring emergence. Adaptive genetic approaches are being used to determine resistance to White-Nose Syndrome in bat populations of the northern forest: exploring the critical disease-genotype-microbiome link. I continue to look for opportunities to investigate the impact of fine woody debris (FWD; <6 inches diameter) removal on above and belowground community assemblages, especially in rich soils under regenerating northern hardwood stands. Most recent research is assessing changes to butterfly pollinator diversity during a large-scale Northern Dry Forest and pine barren restoration project; primary objective is to determine how long after restoration activities will the butterfly community resemble surrounding barren's butterfly species assemblages, which incorporates the distance and size of restoration activities.

Research Interests

Conservation and restoration of open lands and early succession habitats and the species that rely on these systems; applying metapopulation, island biogeography, and fragmentation theory to answer critical questions associated with impacts of large-scale land use and cover changes from forest management and human development; using a landscape genetics approach to investigate influence of landscape pattern on population processes

Why This Research is Important

Information gained from the bioenergy studies will provide land managers and policy makers with scientific information they need to evaluate the trade-offs of harvesting woody biomass for energy use or converting lands to hybrid poplars against other ecological services. Advances in metapopulation and biogeogrpahy theory within a habitat fragmentation and landscape resistance context (i.e., landscape genetics) will inform local to international decisions on population conservation and habitat resotration programs. Using long-term monitoring data will be applied to cumulative effects models that evaluate forest managment, and also help assess best management practices. The Kirtland's Warbler research will link expected habitat changes as a result in changing climate to short- and long-term population viability assessments that are required to aid conservation efforts of this endangered population. Results will also be applicable to the expanding topic of 'migratory connectivity'.


  • University of Wisconsin - Gaylord Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies - Madison, WI, Ph.D. Environmental Studies 2007
  • University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, M.S. Wildlife Ecology 1997
  • University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point, B.S. Wildlife Ecology 1988

Professional Experience

  • Research Ecologist, Northern Research Station
    2009 - Current
  • Wildlife Biologist, Northern Research Station
    1997 - 2009

Professional Organizations

  • The Wildlife Society, Member (2006 - Current)
  • International Association for Landscape Ecology (U.S. Chapter), Member (2005 - Current)

Awards & Recognition

  • NRS Early Career Scientist Award, 2011
    For pioneering the application of spatial ecology to bio-energy and endangered species research

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


A Warbler Recovers from Near Extinction, but Will its Habitat Survive?

More than three decades of work on restoration of its nesting habitat has resulted in the recovery of Kirtland’s warbler, a bird that flew clo ...


Bats and Conservation Education Programs

Bats provide an important ecosystem services: They are voracious eaters of insects and can eat their body weight in insects every night. Unfortu ...


Effect of Woody Biomass Removal on Forest Biodiversity and Nutrient Cycling

Findings represent short-term effects and give a baseline for long-term study


How Large-scale Forest Conditions Influence Northern Goshawk Nesting

Efforts to better understand nesting habitat requirements of the northern goshawk, a forest-sensitive species in northern Wisconsin, were enhanc ...


How do bats use landscapes around hibernaculum?

The answer to that question may be key to their survival. Understanding how bats use the landscape during all stages of their life cycle is cruc ...


Landscape-scale Effects of Beaver Removal on a Managed Forest

Beavers and their dams have been removed from Class I and II trout streams within Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest since the late 1980s to re ...


Scientists Discover Earlier Shift in Peak Salamander Numbers at Woodland Ponds

Forest Service scientists analyzed salamander monitoring data taken at breeding woodland ponds in the early 1990s to mid-2000s and found that th ...


Scientists study the potential implications of expanding woody biomass harvesting to forest biodiversity?

Demand for wood biomass to help meet the nation’s renewable energy needs raises questions about the implications of removing small-diameter wh ...


Spatial Analysis Differentiates New York Coyotes Between Two Colonizing Fronts

Coyotes are widely distributed, highly mobile predators that exhibit regional differences in habitat affinities, prey specialization, social agg ...


Wood Turtle Habitat Use in Western Edge of Distribution

Efforts to better understand habitat use patterns of the wood turtle at the western edge of their range is important for range-wide conservation ...


Last updated on : 09/23/2020