Native habitats provide many values for people, fish, and wildlife in Oregon. In the last few decades, great progress has been made in understanding how Oregon’s habitats function. In addition, landowners, land managers, and restoration experts have learned on-the-ground lessons through experimentation and sharing information. However, there are still data gaps that need to be addressed in order to effectively restore and manage native habitats in Oregon. Below are some broad themes for data gaps identified for Strategy Habitats. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but represents some high priority information needs.
- Determine disturbance factors (e.g., fire, flooding, winter storms) and regimes that historically maintained Strategy Habitats.
- Increase understanding of how to manage habitats at multiple scales. For example, improve methods for managing wetland and riparian habitats across landscape and watershed scales.
- Continue to refine habitat distribution maps. Improve ability to map specialized and local habitats.
- Continue to update historical vegetation maps as additional information is developed regarding temporal and spatial ecosystem dynamics.
- Develop innovative management techniques and markets with potential to support job creation and local economies while restoring habitats (e.g., markets for small-diameter trees removed during forest restoration).
- Establish propagation methods for native plants for restoration. Collaborate with partners to develop sustainable markets for native plant producers in order to provide a reliable supply of restoration materials (e.g., Native Seed Network’s programs).
- Determine most effective methods to restore natural hydrological conditions to streams, rivers, and wetlands, including seasonal wetlands (e.g., vernal pools, wet prairies, and playas).
- Determine distribution and spread rates of priority invasive species.
- Develop measurable indicators of high quality habitat.
- Improve our ability to measure the change in habitats, as well as our ability to measure habitat quality and habitat quality indicators.
- Increase our understanding of how management decisions impact habitats. For example, continue development of state-and-transition models.
- Improve bitterbrush and mountain mahogany regeneration.
- Control encroaching native vegetation (e.g., conifers in oak woodlands, western juniper in sagebrush) and effects on native plant composition and ecological function (e.g., transpiration impacts on surface water flows caused by western juniper).
- Reintroduce natural fire regimes into forested habitats and reduce wildfire risk while maintaining late successional habitats.
- Reintroduce fire into fire-dependent landscapes, such as native grasslands, chaparral, oak savannas, and ponderosa pine habitats. Develop fire prescriptions to address the constraints of surrounding land uses, smoke management, safety, and other considerations.
- Address wildfire in areas with mid-term fire (30-70 year) fire return intervals, such as shrub-steppe and old-growth forest habitats, where it can be especially damaging to the wildlife habitat, and prescribed fire may not always be possible.
- Maintain fire-dependent habitats in the absence of natural fire regimes, especially where prescribed fire is not practical.
Oak Woodlands and Savanna
- Enhance cavity development in oak trees (e.g., fungal inoculations, limbing).
- Determine effectiveness of snag creation from competing conifers to provide cavity-nesting habitat for oak-associated birds, such as the Western Bluebird, Acorn Woodpecker, and White-breasted Nuthatch.
- Encourage large, open-structure Oregon white oak tree growth.
- Evaluate effects of management practices on natural oak regeneration.
- Determine the effects of altered subsoil water levels on aspen.
- Utilize prescribed fire techniques that can be applied in aspen habitats to control junipers while stimulating aspen shoots.
Ponderosa Pine Woodlands
- Determine desired patch size and connectivity across landscapes.
- Determine gap dynamics (e.g., how forest openings are created, maintained, change over the landscape, and are used by or affect wildlife).
- For high-elevation ponderosa pine habitats that have converted to mixed-conifer habitats, determine if restoration is possible and desirable. If so, investigate restoration methods.
- Determine specific requirements for large woody debris levels in streams.
- Identify factors that impact channel stability and channel conditions.
- Understand and assess effects of changes in channel geometry.
- Assess historical temperature and water quality regimes.
- Improve methods to understand impacts of upland management on aquatic habitats.
- To ensure effective management of non-point source pollutants, such as fertilizers and pesticides:
- Understand the chemical breakdown of pollutants in wetlands and other temporary aquatic habitats.
- Investigate potential impacts of pesticides or herbicides on ecological communities, considering trophic dynamics.
- Compile management suggestions for reducing the impact of non-point source pollution.
- Develop non-toxic alternatives to pesticides and fertilizers, where feasible.
Multiple-objective Resource Lands
- Develop decision-making tools to help land owners and land managers assess and compare the short-term and long-term risks to wildlife and habitat of forest management practices that reduce the risk of uncharacteristic fire.
- Determine the impacts of intensive vegetation management (through herbicides and fertilizers) on native wildlife and ecological communities.
- Increase efforts to understand and evaluate the benefits of managed farm and rangeland (for example, soil and ecological processes; ability to adapt to change).
- Investigate grazing regimes that are compatible with grassland conservation goals.
- Investigate impacts of range management regimes on big sagebrush habitats, understanding what habitat components are important to wildlife and how grazing or other activities affect these habitats.
- Evaluate management actions on range and other land to determine best practices.
- Evaluate efficiency with which runoff and irrigation water is used, and evaluate the degree to which farm and range land resist erosion and runoff.
- Determine relationships between groundwater withdrawals and surface water volume.
- Develop quantitative measures of environmental condition and performance for managed landscapes, including managed forests, agricultural lands, rangelands, and urban areas.
- Increase understanding about the ecological effects of urbanization, and ways to minimize negative consequences for species and habitats within and beyond the urbanized footprint.
- Improve our understanding of climate change and how:
- it may impact our ability to maintain native habitat.
- to increase resiliency of habitats.
- we can best allow for movement and migration of wildlife.