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
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
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.
Rare Plants and
Non-Native Plant Surveys
nudicaulis - nakedstem gymnosteris
Photo Credit: Cassondra Skinner @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS
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