Title: Using forest inventory data to assess fisher resting habitat suitability in California.
Author: Zielinski, William J.; Truex, Richard L.; Dunk, Jeffrey R.; Gaman, Tom;
Source: Ecological Applications, 16(3): 1010-1025
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Description: The fisher (Martes pennanti) is a forest-dwelling carnivore whose current distribution and association with late-seral forest conditions make it vulnerable to stand-altering human activities or natural disturbances. Fishers select a variety of structures for daily resting bouts. These habitat elements, together with foraging and reproductive (denning) habitat, constitute the habitat requirements of fishers. We develop a model capable of predicting the suitability of fisher resting habitat using standard forest vegetation inventory data. The inventory data were derived from Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA), a nationwide probability-based sample used to estimate forest characteristics. We developed the model by comparing vegetation and topographic data at 75 randomly selected fisher resting structures in the southern Sierra Nevada with 232 forest inventory plots. We collected vegetation data at fisher resting locations using the FIA vegetation sampling protocol and centering the 1-ha FIA plot on the resting structure. To distinguish used and available inventory plots, we used nonparametric logistic regression to evaluate a set of a priori biological models. The top model represented a dominant portion of the Akaike weights (0.87), explained 31.5% of the deviance, and included the following variables: average canopy closure, basal area of trees <51 cm diameter breast height (dbh), average hardwood dbh, maximum tree dbh, percentage slope, and the dbh of the largest conifer snag. Our use of routinely collected forest inventory data allows the assessment and monitoring of change in fisher resting habitat suitability over large regions with no additional sampling effort. Although models were constrained to include only variables available from the list of those measured using the FIA protocol, we did not find this to be a shortcoming. The model makes it possible to compare average resting habitat suitability values before and after forest management treatments, among administrative units, across regions and over time. Considering hundreds of plot estimates as a sample of habitat conditions over large spatial scales can bring a broad perspective, at high resolution, and efficiency to the assessment and monitoring of wildlife habitat.
Keywords: California, FIA, fisher, forest inventory, habitat suitability, Martes pennanti, modeling, monitoring, 4251, rwu-4251
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Zielinski, William J.; Truex, Richard L.; Dunk, Jeffrey R.; Gaman, Tom 2006. Using forest inventory data to assess fisher resting habitat suitability in California. Ecological Applications, 16(3), pp. 1010-1025
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