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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Victoria A. Saab

Research Wildlife Biologist
1648 South 7th Avenue, MSU Campus
United States

Phone: 406-994-5032
Contact Victoria A. Saab

Current Research

1. Determine ecological consequences of fire and other landscape stressors for avian communities of dry coniferous forests of the Interior West. 2. Examine breeding ecology of the black-backed, Lewis's, and white-headed woodpeckers in burned and unburned forests of the Inland Pacific Northwest. 3. Developing habitat suitability models from both field-collected and remotely-sensed data to predict bird distributions under different climate and management scenarios. 4. Developing statistically valid, standardized methods for occupancy and effectiveness monitoring of woodpeckers in relation to habitat restoration and fire management activities. 5. Determine the effect of fuels reduction treatments on habitat suitability of selected woodpeckers. 6. Provide managers with tools and results to help understand and estimate occupancy of selected woodpeckers throughout the USFS Pacific Northwest Region. 7. Develop historic and future woodpecker nesting habitats under different management & climate scenarios. 8. Identify future needs of habitat suitability for nesting woodpeckers to help guide forest restoration activities.

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding wildlife habitat relationships to provide guidance on management activities that promote wildlife population and habitat persistence. Next steps will focus on 1) validation and refinement of habitat suitability models for woodpeckers under current conditions, 2) development of habitat suitability models for historic and future climate and land management scenarios, and 3) developing training workshops to instruct managers and biologists on creating habitat suitability maps that will be used to guide forest restoration activities (i.e. determine most appropriate locations for treatments).

Past Research

Recent efforts to mitigate severe fire effects and restore ecological function in dry coniferous forests have taken on a new urgency due to observed and anticipated effects of climate change. Currently, fuel reduction treatments are the primary focus of dry coniferous forest restoration. This will necessitate land managers to consider the implications of forest management actions on a range of resources, including wildlife. Consequently, managers need reliable information about climate-fire-vegetation interactions to effectively achieve their goals of forest restoration, while maintaining wildlife habitat and other sensitive resources. Land managers face significant challenges implementing forest restoration activities while concurrently meeting the requirements of existing laws to maintain wildlife habitat. Therefore, tools to predict potential wildlife habitat in landscapes affected by restoration activities are needed to help managers with timely decisions regarding treatment options.

Why This Research is Important

1. Co-edited a volume Fire and Avian Ecology in North America used in environmental analyses to examine effects of different fire conditions on avian species and communities. 2. Development of standardized methods for monitoring populations and habitats of cavity-nesting birds that are widely used in western forests and facilitate comparisons across studies. 3. Development of spatially explicit habitat suitability maps used for targeting management activities related to postfire salvage logging and forest restoration; areas identified as lower habitat suitability are considered for management activities, whereas those with higher suitability are identified for deferred, different, or maintenance treatments.


  • Oklahoma State University, B.S. Wildlife Ecology 1977
  • Montana State University, M.S. Fish and Wildlife Management 1986
  • University of Colorado, Ph.D. Environmental, Population and Organismal Biology 1996

Featured Publications & Products


Citations of non US Forest Service Publications

  • Johnson, V., D. Vanderzanden, H. Lachowski, V. A. Saab, L. Donohoo. 2000. Using landsat satellite imagery to evaluate fire‐created habitat for cavity‐nesting birds. USDA, Forest Service, Remote Sensing Tips RSAC‐12‐TIP1, Remote Sensing Applications Center, Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • Johnson, V., V. A. Saab, D. Vanderzanden, H. Lachowski, R. Brannon, and C. Crist. 2000. Using landsat satellite imagery to evaluate fire‐created habitat for cavity‐nesting birds. In: Remote Sensing and Geospatial Technologies for the New Millennium; Proceedings of the Eighth Forest Service Remote Sensing Applications Conference, 10‐14 April 2000, Albuquerque, New Mexico, editor Greer, J.D. American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

  • Dixon, R.D., and V. A. Saab. 2000. Black‐backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus). In: The Birds of North America. No. 509. (Poole, A. and Gill, F. eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington D.C.

  • Saab, V.A., C.E. Bock, T.D. Rich, and D.S. Dobkin. 1995. Livestock grazing effects in western North America. In T.E. Martin and D.M. Finch [eds.], Ecology and management of Neotropical migratory birds: a synthesis and review of critical issues. Pages 311-353. Oxford University Press, New York
  • Saab, V. A. 1992. Small land birds breeding in cottonwood riparian forests of southeastern Idaho. The Northwest Environmental Journal 8: 226-228.

Research Highlights


Contemporary Fire Effects on Birds Dependant on Historical Fire Regime

Wildfire strongly shapes landscape structure and animal communities in dry forests of western North America. Forest Service research documents r ...


FIRE-BIRD: A GIS Tool for Applying Habitat Suitability Models to Inform Land Management Planning

To conserve and promote biological diversity, land managers must identify suitable habitat for species of conservation concern. Managers can the ...


Using habitat requirements of woodpeckers to design post-fire salvage logging

Can we conduct economically-beneficial forest management while maintaining wildlife populations in recently burned forests? Study shows trade-of ...


Last updated on : 04/01/2021