In the Sierra Nevada the restoration and management of aspen habitat has become a priority for land managers.
Aspen are often out-competed by conifers due to extensive livestock grazing and the absence of regular fire. These
habitats can support a rich and abundant avian community, and by many accounts Aspen is the single most species-rich
avian habitat in the Sierra Nevada. Several bird species of management interest are associated with aspen including
Northern Goshawk, Red-breasted Sapsucker, Warbling Vireo, and Mountain Bluebird.
A vital part of effective aspen management is developing a monitoring and adaptive feedback framework. As
aspen restoration treatments are a new practice in the Sierra Nevada, monitoring the treatment effects on the ecosystem
and feeding information back into future management actions will result in the greatest benefit to wildlife and achieving
other restoration objectives. Bird monitoring is an ideal tool for providing cost-effective feedback on a whole community
Before and after treatments to encourage aspen regeneration and growth: competing conifers are removed to allow more
sunlight to reach the forest floor - thereby enhancing the vigor of the existing aspen stems, encouraging new suckering,
and enhancing herbaceous vegetation.
In 2004, PRBO began a project monitoring birds across aspen habitat on the Eagle Lake and Almanor Ranger Districts of
the Lassen National Forest. In 2010, PRBO initiated a similar study on the Inyo National Forest. The primary
objectives are to evaluate aspen restoration treatments by monitoring the response of a suite of landbird species
associated with a broad range of aspen habitat characteristics, and then to use this knowledge to guide adaptive
management. In addition, from 1997 to 2006 PRBO monitored birds in riparian habitats across the Eastern Sierra Nevada
from other smaller monitoring projects, and data from sites containing aspen habitat have been included here.
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