News - Conservation Science Partners
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New paper by CSP Associate Scientist Shelley Crausbay

An exploration of fire and large-scale forest impacts over the last 14,000 years identifies rapid climate changes as a key factor.

Shelley Crausbay, one of CSP’s Associate Scientists, along with colleagues from the Universities of Washington and Montana, recently published a paper in the journal Ecology on the role of fire in shaping the composition and structure of lowland forests in the Pacific Northwest. The team looked at stand-scale paleorecords of vegetation and fire spanning nearly 14,000 years for a forest in western Washington. This information was used to characterize the relationship between fire and rapid changes in the forest vegetation.READ MORE

Team CSP-SBI takes 2nd place in the Iron Horse Classic

Mark Aasmundstad does it again!

Team CSP-SBI recently competed in the 46th annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic — a steep, 47-mile ride between Durango and Silverton, Colorado. Held each year on Memorial Day weekend, the IHBC is one of the most popular races in the western U.S. Mark Aasmundstad, Team CSP-SBI’s leader, placed second in the men’s pro division — and in the overall race —completing the ride on just under 2 hours and 24 minutes! CSP had a great turnout, with three riders in the citizen’s race, including board member Tom Sisk.

Visit Mark’s blog to see photos and read a recap of his experience!READ MORE

Occupancy modeling: A look at study design, and an application for the giant gartersnake

CSP publishes two papers on occupancy modeling—one that looks at optimal sampling methods and another that predicts the types of areas the giant gartersnake is most likely to inhabit.

Occupancy modeling is frequently used to study the spatial distributions of species — in other words, to determine why species occur in some locations but not others. In one recent study, CSP’s Rick Scherer and Brett Dickson collaborated with colleagues from universities, federal agencies, and private organizations to evaluate the field methods used to collect data for avifaunal occupancy models. In another, they used an occupancy model to evaluate the spatial distribution of a threatened species, the giant gartersnake (Thamnophis gigas).READ MORE

New habitat connectivity model for jaguar released

The CSP team develops new maps of potential jaguar habitat connectivity that are suitable for transportation and conservation planning in the borderlands region.

A group of CSP scientists — Dave Theobald, Vincent Landau, Meredith McClure, and Brett Dickson — has crafted a habitat connectivity model for jaguars in a study area that focuses on northern Sonora and southern Arizona. This model builds on previous work by the Wildlife Conservation Society but expands the study area and uses data that is significantly higher in resolution. The map generated by this model indicates that a substantial amount of potentially suitable jaguar habitat likely extends north of Interstate 10 within Arizona and New Mexico. It also provides information about the potential pathways jaguars use to move across the Sonoran landscape.READ MORE

New CSP study identifies areas where urban development is most likely to affect puma habitat and movement in Arizona

Our connectivity analysis found that the most vulnerable areas lie to the north and east of Phoenix and along interstate highways in the western portion of the state.

Meredith McClure (CSP), Brett Dickson (CSP), and Kerry Nicholson (Alaska Department of Fish and Game) recently published a study in Ecology and Evolution that examines the future of puma habitat and movement pathways in Arizona. Pumas are common in both northern Arizona, where they inhabit forests and other types of vegetation communities, and southern Arizona, where they tend to occupy more mountainous or rugged areas. Because pumas can move over long distances, their population connectivity is threatened by urbanized areas and roads, which form barriers to movement and migration.READ MORE

Study highlights a disconnect between science, policy, and implementation — a recipe for missed freshwater conservation opportunities

Scientific methods for assessing ecological integrity have grown more sophisticated and reliable in recent decades; however, the integration of assessment results into management and conservation practices has not kept pace with these advances.

CSP’s Dave Theobald participated in a study, along with researchers from the University of Washington and Portland State University, that took a critical look at how assessments of ecological integrity are conducted — and whether they are indeed effective at meeting the goals of the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA). Ecological integrity, a cornerstone of this landmark environmental legislation, was intended to guide the management and conservation of wetlands, lakes, streams, riparian areas, and watersheds. The term describes the ability of an ecosystem to support and maintain ecological processes and a diverse community of organisms.READ MORE

Bears Ears National Monument: An assessment of conservation values and potential threats

CSP finds that the newly protected Bears Ears National Monument (BENM) presents a significant opportunity to conserve key elements of ecological function across the western U.S.

On December 28, 2016, President Obama designated, by proclamation, 1.35 million acres in southeastern Utah as BENM. Although these lands, which surround Natural Bridges National Monument and border both Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation area, are now protected, they still face serious threats associated with political pressures to develop the region’s abundant oil, gas, and mineral resources, which include uranium, vanadium, and copper.

BENM is known for its spectacular landscapes and antiquities — ancient cliff dwellings, rock art and ceremonial sites. It is also home to species listed under the Endangered Species Act, including the California condor, Mexican spotted owl, and greenback cutthroat trout.READ MORE

Post-treatment monitoring shows the success of fuels-reduction treatment in an Arizona forest

Wilburforce Fellow Miranda Gray makes a case for monitoring as a valuable tool for assessing the efficacy of forest treatments.

CSP’s Miranda Gray recently conducted an analysis to monitor the effects of forest treatments in the Upper Beaver Creek (UBC) watershed of northern Arizona, where a prescribed fire was implemented in 2015. The goal of this treatment was to reduce dense fuel accumulations and encourage the growth of grasses, shrubs, and wildflowers. Supported by the National Forest Foundation through the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, this study entailed analyzing high-resolution imagery to identify evidence of a restored landscape and provide a quantitative information about outcomes. Although monitoring is essential for understanding the results of forest treatments, it is often overlooked during project planning and budgeting. Remote-sensing approaches can be ideal for tracking conditions before and after prescribed fires.READ MORE

New CSP study predicts areas that are at risk of wild pig invasion

CSP’s latest work on wild pigs, one of the most destructive invasive species in the world, identifies a need for aggressive management to prevent far-reaching impacts.

A group of researchers led by CSP’s Dr. Jesse Lewis recently published a study in Nature Scientific Reports on invasive wild pigs, also known as feral swine. The study, entitled “Biotic and abiotic factors predicting the global distribution and population density of an invasive large mammal,” represents a collaboration between CSP, Colorado State University, and the USDA Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health. The researchers analyzed data from five continents — North America, South America, Africa, Eurasia, and Australia — to map predicted pig population densities and found a great potential for them to expand their geographic ranges. By identifying the areas that are at risk of invasion, this work provides a basis for informing and prioritizing management actions.READ MORE

Bryan Wallace joins the CSP team

We are happy to announce that Bryan Wallace, PhD, has joined us and will be working out of our Fort Collins office.

Bryan is a wildlife ecologist who brings us skills in conservation biology, particularly protected-resources biology and conservation, as well as marine ecology, fisheries management, and ecophysiology. He earned his doctorate in 2005 at Drexel University and has held positions in academia, international NGOs, and the for-profit sector. Bryan has authored over 60 publications and served as a reviewer for 30 journals. Although his background spans many areas of conservation biology, much of his research has focused on marine megafauna — specifically, sea turtles, an iconic species that offers unique insights about the health and function of the world’s oceans.READ MORE