July 2009

Surveillance | Land Management | Education | Research | Conservation Management

New on the ESER Website

2008 Third Quarter Surveillance Report

2008 Fourth Quarter Surveillance Report

Newspaper in Education Ask a Scientist website


Desert Species of the Month

An Animal of the High Desert-Greater Sage Grouse

Desert Species of the Month Archive


Land Management:  Focus on  INL Bird Species List

159 bird, species have been documented to occur on the INL in southeastern Idaho.  An additional 13 bird species are listed as possibly occurring, because portions of their range overlap the INL area, or they have been reported within 30 km of the site.                 More


Environmental Education

ESER has joined with the Sawtooth Science Institute, ISU, and the Museum of Idaho to offer seven sessions of Rocky Mountain Adventure for Teachers.  Join us for one or all of these two-day, one-credit field studies in southeastern Idaho's spectacular and unique natural environments. We'll observe and study the living and nonliving and provide a wealth of field activities which can be adapted to any grade level.

More information www.isu.edu/ssi/

Questions:  Alana Jensen


Contact Us
Contact us:
ESER Program
S. M. Stoller Corp.
120 Technology Drive
Idaho Falls, ID 83401



Summer Field Season

It's a busy field season for Stoller ESER Program with about 30 interns and scientists in the field.  Check out what we are doing.

Vegetation Community Classification and Mapping

The Idaho National Laboratory (INL) developed vegetation community maps in 1973, 1978, and 1992. However no quantitative accuracy assessments were conducted to validate these maps, and recent wildfires across the INL have altered some of the vegetation communities. This project is a component of the INL Conservation Management Plan and will provide an up-to-date vegetation community distribution map.

We have four interns working on this project this summer. Two of the interns are recent college graduates from Boise State University and BYU-Idaho. The other two interns are currently enrolled in undergraduate programs at Idaho State University and Michigan Technological University. The goal for this seasonís field work will be to identify which vegetation community is present at pre-selected plot locations across the INL. The field data from each sampling plot will be compared against the vegetation community assigned to the map at that location, and corresponding map class accuracies will be calculated this fall.

War on Weeds

The War on Weeds (WOW) Project is a "learn by doing" summer internship. WOW employs students for a six-week period to map noxious weeds on the INL using Global Positioning System (GPS) units and to create weed maps for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

This summer, eight interns from Butte County are working on the War on Weeds project.  Five are from Butte County High School, two are from BYU-Idaho, and one is a master student from Idaho State University.  The interns will map noxious weeds on the INL, in Butte County, at the Salmon-Challis National Forest, and at Craters of the Moon.

Wildlife Conservation Society

Sage Grouse Telemetry

Thirty four sage grouse were trapped and radio collared during spring of 2008 and WCS interns are collecting telemetry readings.  Data collected from these collared-birds will provide information on critical habitat important to sage grouse life history and will yield information concerning mortality, cause of mortality and survivorship. Location data will be used to qualify and quantify key habitats and sites. 

Raven Depredation on Sage Grouse Nest Study

Sage grouse are a sagebrush obligate that have been petitioned multiple times for endangered species status (one petition is currently under review). Human activities are increasing raven densities which are in turn increasing the number of sage grouse nest that are being depredated by ravens. WCS is working to understand how resources provided by humans (e.g., power lines for nesting or road kill for food) are influencing raven densities.  Results of this study will be published by Kristy Howe in her Master's program dissertation for Idaho State University and also included in the INL Conservation Management Plan.  Four students are collecting data for the study.   More Information

Rare Plants and Non-Native Plant Surveys

Gymnosteris nudicaulis  - nakedstem gymnosteris   Photo Credit:  Cassondra Skinner @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

This summer a group of researchers from Montana State University began a project to determine the distribution of rare native plants and non-native invasive plants on the INL Site. The project is part of a larger effort to develop a Conservation Management Plan for a portion of the INL Site. Even though surveys for noxious weeds are ongoing, the only surveys for rare native plants on the INL occurred between 1978 and 1981. Understanding where rare species and weeds occur is an important first step in developing plans for conserving one and controlling the other. Although it may seem unusual to consider rare plants and weeds in the same project, the methods used to study both are similar. The new effort by MSU will develop habitat models for both rare species and weeds that will provide maps of where these species are likely to occur. For the invasive species, these models will also provide information on the factors that promote their spread. All of the results will be used to develop new guidelines for managing these species.

The project is led by three professors from MSU and will provide a research project for one graduate student. The field work has also allowed four undergraduate students from MSU to receive valuable experience in field research. The project will continue through 2011.