Project Leader / Landscape Ecologist
5985 Highway K
Contact Deahn Donner
The primary goal of the scientist’s research program is to develop an understanding of large-scale spatial and temporal relationships required to manage and restore habitat to conserve wildlife populations. Her research program spans three major themes including spatial ecology and conservation of populations, bioenergy and biodiversity, and landscape restoration of pine barrens and northern dry forests. Given the rate of habitat transformation occurring worldwide, increasing land use pressures, and multiple use direction of the agency, strategic planning for wildlife conservation programs across broader geographic regions will become the standard rather than the exception as increasing numbers of populations become smaller and more isolated. The vulnerability of these remaining populations is compounded by changing environmental conditions. Each species is exposed to and sensitive to these factors differentially, so broad conclusions are not always transferrable across species, or across a species range. Traditional small-scale studies cannot provide the large-scale information needed to determine patterns of adaptive ability to changing conditions, nor how to ensure populations remain functionally connected (i.e., successful breeding) across complex, spatially heterogeneous landscapes. The scientist applies metapopulation, biogeography, movement ecology, landscape ecology, and landscape genetic theoretical frameworks to problems. In addition, the use of forest-based bioenergy is an important component of our national energy strategy. Scaling up these alternative sources of energy from local to regional or national programs remains challenging as well as determining the impacts of biomass to wildlife populations. Last, fire suppression combined with succession has drastically reduced historically open barren and savannah systems, particularly pine barrens and northern dry forest ecosystems in the Lake States region. These systems provide important habitat to many native pollinators that are facing declines.
Specific research projects focus on (1) bat movement ecology and the secondary effects of White-Nose Syndrome, (2) using forest management to mitigate effects of climate change on moose in Minnesota, (3) spatial ecology and Kirtland’s Warbler population recovery and conservation, (3) (4) wood turtle movement patterns using landscape genetic approaches, (5) using eDNA to monitor and model habitat occupancy for rare species such as the Lake Sturgeon, (6) assessing forest biodiversity sustainability in northeast United States under various biofuel harvesting scenarios of the 2016 Billion Ton Report, and (7) using fire and silvicultural treatments to optimize barrens and northern dry forest restoration.
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
Our Nation’s forests and grasslands are natural assets that provide goods and services vital to human health and livelihood. The rate and magnitude of ecological changes brought on by human activity, changing climates, and natural disturbances are increasing rapidly and creating novel conditions within which forest managers must operate to sustain the ecosystem services their lands provide. Landscapes are being modified by shifting land uses, unprecedented environmental conditions, altered fire regimes, pollution, and large-scale insect and disease outbreaks. Understanding the cumulative effects of these processes requires a landscape perspective that integrates time, space and scale. Scale is recognized as a critical concept in ecology. Ecological problems often exist over decades and large ecosystems, but important variables that drive spatial patterns and processes are often measured in small areas or over short periods of time. Moreover, the most pressing land management issues of our day (e.g., timber harvesting, environmental quality, road building, forest fragmentation, and loss of biological diversity) have a spatial component and cannot be resolved by considering them at a single scale. Sustaining our forests and grasslands to be resilient and adaptive in a changing world and improving forest conditions are both desired outcomes of forest management that will also provide necessary wildlife habitat.
- 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
- Research Landscape Ecologist and Project Leader, Northern Research Station
2009 - Current
- Wildlife Biologist, Northern Research Station
1997 - 2009
- The Wildlife Society, Member (2006 - Current)
- International Association for Landscape Ecology - North America, Member (2005 - Current)
Awards & Recognition
- Inspiring Woman Award - Northern Research Station, 2016
In recognition of outreach and partnerships formed with minorities and research
- Wings Across the Americas Conservation Award, 2016
In recognition of research-management partnerships on the multi-scale landscape ecology approach for studying the secondary effects of White-nose Syndrome in bats of the upper Midwest.
- NRS Early Career Scientist Award, 2011
For pioneering the application of spatial ecology to bio-energy and endangered species research
Featured Publications & Products
- Yi, Xueling ; Donner, Deahn M.; Marquardt, Paula E.; Palmer, Jonathan M.; Jusino, Michelle A.; Frair, Jacqueline ; Lindner, Daniel L.; Latch, Emily K. 2020. Major histocompatibility complex variation is similar in little brown bats before and after white nose syndrome outbreak.
- Banner, Katharine M.; Irvine, Kathryn M.; Rodhouse, Thomas J.; Donner, Deahn ; Litt, Andrea R. 2019. Statistical power of dynamic occupancy models to identify temporal change: Informing the North American Bat Monitoring Program.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Wigley, T. Bently; Miller, Darren A. 2017. Forest biodiversity and woody biomass harvesting.
- Bocetti, Carol I.; Donner, Deahn M.; Mayfield, Harold F. 2014. Kirtland's warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) revised.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Anderson, Dean; Eklund, Daniel; St.Pierre, Matthew. 2013. Large-scale forest composition influences northern goshawk nesting in Wisconsin.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; Probst, John R. 2010. Patch dynamics and the timing of colonization-abandonment events by male Kirtland's Warblers in an early succession habitat.
- Ribic, Christine A.; Rugg, David J.; Donner, Deahn M.; Beck, Albert J.; Byers, BJ., Jr. 2016. The Moquah Barrens Research Natural Area: Loss of a pine barrens ecosystem.
- Wolcott, Daniel M.; Donner, Deahn M.; Brown, Donald J.; Ribic, Christine A. 2018. Kirtland's warbler winter habitat changes across the Bahamian Archipelago in response to future climate-condition scenarios.
- Stricker, Heather K.; Gehring, Thomas M.; Donner, Deahn ; Petroelje, Tyler . 2019. Multi-scale habitat selection model assessing potential gray wolf den habitat and dispersal corridors in Michigan, USA.
- Brown, Donald J.; Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; Bocetti, Carol I. 2019. Influence of climate change and postdelisting management on long term population viability of the conservation reliant Kirtland's Warbler.
- Quigley, Kathleen M.; Kolka, Randall ; Sturtevant, Brian R.; Dickinson, Matthew B.; Kern, Christel C.; Donner, Deahn M.; Miesel, Jessica R. 2020. Prescribed burn frequency, vegetation cover, and management legacies influence soil fertility: Implications for restoration of imperiled pine barrens habitat.
- Quigley, K.M. ; Wildt, R.E. ; Sturtevant, B.R. ; Kolka, R.K. ; Dickinson, M.B. ; Kern, C.C. ; Donner, D.M. ; Miesel, J.R. . 2019. Fuels, vegetation, and prescribed fire dynamics influence ash production and characteristics in a diverse landscape under active pine barrens restoration.
- Berkman, Leah K.; Frair, Jacqueline L.; Marquardt, Paula E.; Donner, Deahn M.; Kilgo, John C.; Whipps, Christopher M. 2019. Spatial genetic analysis of coyotes in New York State.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Brown, Donald J.; Ribic, Christine A.; Nelson, Mark ; Greco, Tim . 2018. Managing forest habitat for conservation-reliant species in a changing climate: The case of the endangered Kirtland's Warbler.
- Brown, Donald J.; Ribic, Christine A.; Donner, Deahn M.; Nelson, Mark D.; Bocetti, Carol I.; Deloria-Sheffield, Christie M.; Thompson, Des. 2017. Using a full annual cycle model to evaluate long-term population viability of the conservation-reliant Kirtland's warbler after successful recovery.
- Brown, Donald J.; Nelson, Mark D.; Rugg, David J.; Buech, Richard R.; Donner, Deahn M. 2016. Spatial and temporal habitat-use patterns of wood turtles at the western edge of their distribution.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; Beck, Albert J.; Higgins, Dale; Eklund, Dan; Reinecke, Susan. 2015. Woodland pond salamander abundance in relation to forest management and environmental conditions in northern Wisconsin.
- Headlee, William L.; Zalesny, Ronald S. Jr.; Donner, Deahn M.; Hall, Richard B. 2013. Using a process-based model (3-PG) to predict and map hybrid poplar biomass productivity in Minnesota and Wisconsin, USA.
- Donner, Deahn M. 2013. Book review The Kirtland's Warbler: The Story of a Bird's Fight against extinction and the People Who Saved It.
- Zalesny, Ronald S., Jr..; Donner, Deahn M.; Coyle, David R.; Headlee, William L. 2012. An approach for siting poplar energy production systems to increase productivity and associated ecosystem services.
- Kashian, Daniel M.; Gregory Corace, R.; Shartell, Lindsey M.; Donner, Deahn M.; Huber, Philip W. 2012. Variability and persistence of post-fire biological legacies in jack pine-dominated ecosystems of northern Lower Michigan.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; St. Pierre, Matthew; Eklund, Daniel. 2011. Harvesting forest residues for bioenergy influences amphibian and herbaceous plant community assemblages in northern hardwood forests.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; St. Pierre, Matthew; Eklund, Dan. 2011. Impacts of harvesting forest residues for bioenergy on herptofauna and herbaceous plant community assemblages in northern hardwood forests.
- Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M. 2011. Kirtland's Warbler (Setophaga kirtlankii).
- Padley, Eunice A.; Donner, Deahn M.; Fassnacht, Karin S.; Zalesny, Ronald S., Jr..; Birr, Bruce; Martin, Karl J. 2011. Managing carbon sequestration and storage in northern hardwood forests.
- Kashian, Daniel; Corace, Gregory; Shartell, Lindsey; Donner, Deahn M.; Huber, Philip. 2011. Variability and persistence of post-fire biological legacies in jack pine-dominated ecosystems of northern Lower Michigan.
- Zalesny, R.S. Jr.; Donner, D.M.; Coyle, D.R.; Headlee, W.L.; Hall, R.B. 2010. An approach for siting poplar energy production systems to increase productivity and associated ecosystem services.
- Donner, Deahn; Zalesny, Ron, Jr. 2010. Potential Land-use changes with Woody Energy Corp Production in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Probst, John R. 2009. A Kirtland's warbler management at regional, landscape, and local scales; 2009 August 25-26; Odanah, WI.
- Donner, Deahn M.; Ribic, Christine A.; Probst, John R. 2009. Male Kirtland's Warblers' patch-level response to landscape structure during periods of varying population size and habitat amounts.
- Donner, Deanh M.; Probst, John R.; Ribic, Christine A. 2008. Influence of habitat amount, arrangement, and use on population trend estimates of male Kirtland's warblers.
- Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Bozek, Michael A. 2007. Continuous, age-related plumage variation in male Kirtland's Warblers.
- Wiese, A.H.; Zalesny, J.A.; Donner, D.M.; Zalesny, Ronald S., Jr. 2006. Bud removal affects shoot, root, and callus development of hardwood Populus cuttings.
- Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Worland, Mike; Weinrich, Jerry; Huber, Phillip; Ennis, Kenneth R. 2005. Comparing census methods for the endangered Kirtland's Warbler.
- Probst, John R.; DonnerWright, Deahn. 2003. Fire and shade effects on ground cover structure in Kirtland's warbler habitat.
- Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn; Bocetti, Carol I.; Sjogren, Steve. 2003. Population increase in Kirtland's warbler and summer range expansion to Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, USA.
- Probst, John R.; Donner, Deahn M.; Bocetti, Carol I.; Sjogren, Steve. 2003. Population increase in Kirtland's warbler and summer range expansion to Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, USA.
- DonnerWright, Deahn; Bozek, Michael A.; Probst, John R.; Anderson, Eric M. 1999. Responses of turtle assemblage to environmental gradients in the St. Croix River in Minnesota and Wisconsin, U.S.A..
|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 ...
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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?|
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|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 ...