In the Sierra Nevada the restoration and management of aspen habitat has become a priority for land managers. Aspen are often out-competed by conifers due to extensive livestock grazing and the absence of regular fire. These habitats can support a rich and abundant avian community, and by many accounts Aspen is the single most species-rich avian habitat in the Sierra Nevada. Several bird species of management interest are associated with aspen including Northern Goshawk, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Warbling Vireo, and Mountain Bluebird.
A vital part of effective aspen management is developing a monitoring and adaptive feedback framework. As aspen restoration treatments are a new practice in the Sierra Nevada, monitoring the treatment effects on the ecosystem and feeding information back into future management actions will result in the greatest benefit to wildlife and achieving other restoration objectives. Bird monitoring is an ideal tool for providing cost-effective feedback on a whole community of organisms.
Point Blue assists with before and after treatments to encourage aspen regeneration and growth where competing conifers are removed to allow more sunlight to reach the forest floor - thereby enhancing the vigor of the existing aspen stems, encouraging new suckering, and enhancing herbaceous vegetation.
In 2004, Point Blue began a project monitoring birds across aspen habitat on the Eagle Lake and Almanor Ranger Districts of the Lassen National Forest. In 2010, Point Blue initiated a similar study on the Inyo National Forest. The primary objectives are to evaluate aspen restoration treatments by monitoring the response of a suite of landbird species associated with a broad range of aspen habitat characteristics, and then to use this knowledge to guide adaptive management. In addition, from 1997 to 2006 Point Blue monitored birds in riparian habitats across the Eastern Sierra Nevada from other smaller monitoring projects, and data from sites containing aspen habitat have been included here.
Visit our Sierra Nevada Avian Monitoring Information Network website for more information on study design, methods, results, and conclusions for our work with aspen restoration.