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Northern Research Station
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726
(608) 231-9318
(608) 231-9544 TTY/TDD

Sustaining Forests

Conserving Wildlife in Managed Forests

[photo:] Cerulean warblerResearch Issue

Public land managers are mandated to sustain viable populations of all species on their lands, which requires an understanding how wildlife populations respond to forest management practices. Our research focuses on forest birds, as populations of many species of eastern deciduous forests are declining across their range, raising concerns over possible negative effects of timber management. 

Our Research

  • We assessed the impacts of an herbicide tank mix on non-target communities of amphibians, small mammals, and birds.
  • We are assessing the impact of partial harvest in the form of a shelterwood cut on forest bird communities by comparing breeding bird abundance and nest success in shelterwood cut stands and uncut mature mixed oak stands. Our focus is on 12 species identified as the highest conservation priority for the Appalachian Bird Conservation region by Partners in Flight .
  • We are studying nest-site selection in the cerulean warbler, a species of very high conservation concern and a habitat specialist of mature deciduous forests.
  • Cerulean warblers appear to require structurally complex forest canopies for breeding habitat.  In a new collaborative study we are assessing the effectiveness of LIDAR and various other methods of quantifying canopy structure to characterize cerulean warbler habitat.
  • Forest birds require suitable habitat in the post-breeding season as well as the breeding season, but those needs may not be similar.  We use constant-effort mist-netting to compare usage by birds of regenerating clearcuts and forest interior in the post-breeding season.

Expected Outcomes

By understanding the responses of wildlife to forest management practices, we can provide managers with the necessary knowledge and tools to better sustain wildlife and their habitats on managed lands.

We will develop habitat models for cerulean warblers at scales of nest site and landscape, which will be used in conjunction with information from other members of the Cerulean Warbler Technical Group to develop guidelines for identifying, maintaining, and improving quality habitat for cerulean warblers. 

Research Results

Stoleson, S.H., K. J. Kirschbaum, J. Frank, and C.J. Atwood.  2004.  Integrating GPS, GIS, and avian call-response surveys using Pocket PCs.  Wildlife Society Bulletin

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Scott H. Stoleson, USDA Forest Service- Northern Research Station Research Wildlife Ecologist

Research Partners

Last Modified: 01/27/2010