Deep within the woodlands of the Olympic Peninsula, you’ll hike over twisting streams and through towering evergreens to record bird calls and collect habitat data. Your contributions will help inform forest managers about how wildlife responds to different management approaches.
The Olympic Peninsula, one of the last explored areas in the contiguous United States, contains rugged mountains, stunning coastline, and a vast wilderness dominated by evergreen rain forest. Within this ecosystem exist some of the largest and oldest trees on the planet, some more than 1,000 years old. More than 29 animal species within this habitat are found only on the Olympic Peninsula, from the Olympic marmot and Olympic short-tailed weasel scurrying thought the mess of ferns and shrubs of the understory to the Olympic mudminnow inhabiting quite river backwaters and forested wetlands. Almost one million acres of this primordial woodland is protected as a World Heritage site, the Olympic National Park. The managers of the surrounding woodland are tasked with balancing protections for its rich biodiversity and the demand for its valuable timber.
This project aims to provide scientific evidence on how wildlife responds to different forest management styles. While many environmental factors are considered in management strategies, how wildlife responds is considered the ultimate validation of a successful habitat conservation strategy. As birds are an integral part of the forest ecosystem, and excellent indicators of its change, studying which birds live where will give researchers key insights into the health and sustainability of different types of managed forests. Bird occupancy will be determined by collecting recordings of birdcalls, known as passive acoustic monitoring (PAM). Volunteers will install sound recording devices in different habitat types within the watersheds of the Olympic Experimental State Forest (OESF), a state-managed land designated for the study of integrating timber harvesting and habitat conservation.
The recordings from these devices will then be run through an automated recognition software that can recognize calls from the target species. Paired with habitat surveys, in which volunteers record tree species, measure tree diameters, and assess the understory vegetation, researchers will be able to determine how many of each species are living in each type of forest and how species are responding to different management styles. The ultimate goal of this study is to inform managers of the OESF and other state and federal lands how different forest management strategies impact both environmental and community wellbeing.
Join us in a remote and wild area of the Pacific Northwest to delve into the important consequences forest management has for the wildlife within it and the community around it. With your help, scientists can collect data that fill important gaps in knowledge on the intersections of conservation and forest management.