Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Effectiveness of Forest Restoration Treatments on Demography of a Federally Listed Ground Squirrel


July 2012 - February 2023


Fire suppression over the past century has caused widespread changes to the structure and function of coniferous forests in the western U.S. Forest restoration efforts to reverse these changes must ensure that restoration prescriptions will not adversely federally listed species. This lack of information can stymie forest restoration efforts. We will compare demographic traits of Northern Idaho Ground Squirrels (NIDGS) among 3 alternative forest restoration treatments: 1) mechanical thinning followed by a fall-season burn (past prescription used by USFS); 2) mechanical canopy removal (patch cut) to double the size of occupied open-canopy; and 3) no treatment (control). We will use a paired design where we will identify groups of sites (those occupied by NIDGS) with similar characteristics and randomly select which will receive each of the 3 treatments. We will stratify assignment of treatments based on squirrel abundance (to the extent possible) within occupied sites because squirrel abundance varies greatly among occupied sites and the effectiveness of a vegetation treatment will likely be affected by squirrel density. We will conduct field studies on NIDGS at each site for >1 year prior to each treatment and for >4 years post-treatment. Comparisons of treatments will help elucidate the mechanisms by which fire affects habitat suitability for NIDGS. We will use established protocols to live-trap and mark squirrels. We will record body mass, age, sex, and reproductive status (descended testes, swollen belly, vaginal plug, teats) of each squirrel captured so that we can compare body mass and proportion of reproductively active adults among treatments. We will put radio-telemetry collars on a subset of captured squirrels so that we can follow movements. Work will be performed by staff, faculty, and students at the University of Idaho and the College of Idaho, under the direction of Dr. Courtney J. Conway, Leader of the Idaho Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit. See attached study plan.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 3

Masters Students: 6

Phd Students: 3

Post Docs: 0

University Staff: 4

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 25

Scientific Publications: 80

Presentations: 237



Funding Agencies

  • US Forest Service
  • US Geological Survey


Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit Cooperators

  1. Idaho Department of Fish and Game
  2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  3. U.S. Geological Survey
  4. University of Idaho
  5. Wildlife Management Institute