In 2007, the Sierra Nevada Forest Plan was amended to adopt a common list of management indicator species (MIS), or species who are particularly good representatives of forest health, and associated monitoring strategies for all ten forests in the Sierra Nevada: the Eldorado, Inyo, Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Sequoia, Sierra, Stanislaus, and Tahoe National Forests and Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. The amended MIS strategy identifies eleven land-based habitats or ecosystem components and twelve wildlife species whose populations are designated to be indicative of habitat management.

Point Blue has designed a plan for monitoring and evaluating the response of four of the twelve Management Indicator Species(MIS) selected by the Forest Service to help guide management of the 10 Sierra Nevada National Forests. Mountain Quail (Oreortyx pictus) was selected as the indicator for early and mid-seral conifer forest, Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) as the indicator for chaparral shrubland, Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) as the indicator for riparian habitat, and Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) as the indicator for snags in green forest.

Our project targets the habitats of these four management indicator species (MIS) in order to track changes in their (and associated species) distributions at the Sierra Nevada scale by monitoring the changes in their occurrence across a large number of sample locations on forest and riparian habitats.

This project provides a unique opportunity to monitor multiple species at a regional scale using standardized methods in order to evaluate the population responses to a variety of management and other influences on wildlife habitat. Statistically rigorous regional-scale monitoring programs are rare in the western United States.

There is a general consensus in the scientific and management community that more monitoring is needed to track wildlife response to climate change, forest management, and other forms of habitat alteration. After three years of field surveys starting in the summer of 2009, we currently have over 160,000 bird occurrence records from over 190 species at almost 2,900 point count survey locations from Modoc to Sequoia National Forest.

New Research Publications:

R.D. Burnett & L.J. Roberts. 2015. A quantitative evaluation of the conservation umbrella of spotted owl management areas in the Sierra Nevada. PLoS ONE 10(4): e0123778. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0123778

Read a summary of the Spotted Owl Conservation Umbrella study

Visit our Sierra Nevada Avian Monitoring Information Network website for more information on study design, methods, results, and conclusions for the Management Indicator Species project.