Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative: Effectiveness Monitoring

Research Project: 

PB00D8K.2.2

Project Manager: 

Pat Anderson
The Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center conducts several projects in the WLCI footprint in cooperation with local, State, and other Federal agencies.
The Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center conducts several projects in the WLCI footprint in cooperation with local, State, and other Federal agencies.

Federal, State, industry, and nongovernmental organizations have been funding habitat improvement treatments across southwestern Wyoming. A primary goal of the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI) is to monitor and assess the effectiveness of these treatments at individual sites and evaluate their effectiveness in meeting landscape-level conservation goals, such as connecting fragmented habitats. The Effectiveness Monitoring task is intended to help guide the design and development of future habitat treatments and to improve the ability of these treatments to meet WLCI landscape conservation objectives. Effectiveness monitoring includes measuring vegetation and soil responses to treatments, developing methods for using remotely sensed estimates of plant productivity to evaluate habitat treatments, and investigating relations between energy development and soil and surface-water salinity. As part of the USGS WLCI effectiveness-monitoring effort, information is collected to assess the effectiveness of a range of habitat treatments (for example, applying herbicide to sagebrush or thinning aspen stands). Existing data associated with past and current habitat treatments have been acquired and evaluated to assess their effectiveness in meeting WLCI conservation goals. Assessments entail comparing historical treatments of different ages as well as before-and-after comparisons of new treatments. Effectiveness is being measured on the basis of multiple factors, including species composition and cover, bare soil cover, forestry metrics (aspen), and biotic and abiotic properties of soils. In addition, researchers are collaborating with scientists working on projects funded by other sources to ascertain the effects of habitat treatments on wildlife use (for example, greater sage-grouse and elk [Cervus elaphus]), which is an essential measure of success resulting from individual and cumulative habitat treatments.

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