Biodiversity Research

Hillside of village sacred forest with view of valley below

Sacred Forests in northwest Yunnan, China - a conservation priority?


Village sacred forests are small village forests protected as part of people’s religious beliefs and not because they are important to wildlife or air quality, and therefore may be better conserved without “official” conservation status.
Jun 2016
Study lake in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Northern Wisconsin

The differential importance of aquatic insect productivity on terrestrial, insectivorous bird guilds.


Aerial insectivore birds have experienced population declines while other insectivore guilds have not. Paul’s research shows that aerial insectivore abundance is related to aquatic insect emergence, while gleaner abundance is not.
Jan 2016
Study area map

Forest change in Caucasus in 1980-2010


In the Western Caucasus in 1985-2010, the deforestation rate was surprisingly low compared to other Russian regions. The biggest hotspot of forest disturbance was construction for Olympic Games – 2014 that happened within Sochi National Park.
Jan 2016
Small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus). Photo by: J.N. Stuart at Flickr.com

Where and how well mongooses are doing in Puerto Rico? A study of invasive mongoose in the island


Mongooses in Puerto Rico are sly animals. Diana is finding the routes and eating habits of the species, in an effort to optimize the management in the island.
Jan 2016
Jaguar captured in a camera trap by Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda

Finding critical habitat for jaguars when potential distributions of species is not enough: Connectivity to the rescue


For the jaguar in México, habitat connectivity might be the most conservation sound option to avoid decimation. Carlos designed a model that integrates potential distribution and connectivity which could influence management of jaguars in Central Mexico.
Jan 2016
Research team members meeting with refuge managers

Working with managers – sharing research results, and getting feedback on research on extreme climate events


Climate change has managers concerned about the future of their refuges. The extreme weather events project members have been meeting with refuge managers to help them understand what will happen.
Jan 2016

Habitat connectivity for the Indochinese tiger in Thailand


The Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris) is one of the most emblematic animal species on Earth but also one of the most endangered wildlife species globally. A current study is using remote sensing techniques to map the distribution and connectivity of tiger habitat in Thailand, one of the last remaining hotspots for the Indochinese tiger.
Jan 2015

Evaluating the influence of conservation plans on land protection actions in Wisconsin


How often do you plan? Do you plan your work, vacations, or social life? Now think, how often, for one good reason or another, have your activities gone astray from the plan? You are not alone.
Jan 2015

Forest Changes in the Altay


In central Siberia, old growth forests are threatened by illegal logging. Finding these sites by foot is an overwhelming task, and researchers turn to the skies, using satellites, in their conservation efforts.
Jan 2015

Forest birds in the sacred forests of Yunnan, China: what do they need for habitat?


Sacred forests in southwest China's Yunnan Province are keystone structure for forest birds of conservation concern. Jodi Brandt and Eric Wood set out to better understand what characteristics of the forest promote bird communities.
Jan 2015

The dynamic habitat index and biodiversity in Thailand


Biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate, often due to habitat degradation and loss. To help optimize conservation planning and monitoring, Naparat Suttidate has developing and testing an easy method to predict biodiversity in Thailand based on remote sensing data.
Mar 2014

Where should we burn? Prioritizing prescribed fire in Wisconsin


Controlled burning is one of the most effective tools for restoring grasslands and savannas across the Midwest. But there are many more lands needing burning than there are resources available.
Mar 2014

Recreational trails are affecting bird reproduction


We might be loving our wildlife habitat to death. Research by Max Henschell, a PhD student, has found that recreational enjoyment of protected areas may be impacting birds.
Mar 2014

Change in alpine wetlands of Southwest China and its implications for wintering Black-necked Cranes


After a period of increase, Black-necked Cranes have been in decline at Napahai wetland since 2000. These patterns appear linked to the growth of the nearby city of Shangri-La.
Mar 2014

Using Land Use Change Projections to Estimate Threats to Freshwater Ecoystems


Freshwater ecosystems are essential for humans and biodiversity, yet they threatened by human activities. Sebastian Martinuzzi's study assessed the consequences of future land use change on freshwater ecosystems in the US.
Mar 2014

Sacred Forests in northwest Yunnan, China: a conservation priority?


Tibetans in Yunnan, China, protect small forest areas near to their villages. While these areas may contribute to biodiversity conservation across the landscape, should they be incorporated into conservation planning?
Jan 2014

The role of ecosystem services in park-people relationships: The case of Gaoligongshan Nature Reserve in southwest China


Understanding the factors influencing people's perceptions of a protected area is a win-win solution for biodiversity conservation and sustainable local people livelihoods.
Jan 2014

The importance of riparian forests to conservation and landscape connectivity in temperate Chile


Land use change and forest fragmentation are a worldwide problem. Isabel Rojas-Viada is employing a novel solution by focusing on riparian forest corridors in Chile.
Jan 2014

Forest degradation in Mexico and spectral mixture analysis


Forests of Mexico are under threat due to development, both for urban and agricultural purposes. However, it is not clear the spatial and temporal extent to which this is happening. SILVIS PhD candidate, Carlos Ramirez Reyes is exploring this using remote sensing data, and a novel method, spectral mixture analysis.
Jan 2014

Birds that Love Insects that Love Lakes: How Insect Populations and Lake Characteristics Impact Avian Aerial Insectivores in Northern Wisconsin


Paul Schilke, MS candidate in the SILVIS Lab, is conducting research in northern Wisconsin to investigate how insects that live around lakes affect the birds that feed on those insects.
Jan 2014

It is getting weirder - extreme events in satellite records


Extreme weather events are becoming both more frequent and intense. These events could be shifting bird numbers and their normal distributions in the United States. Ultimately, these weather events could lead to the extinction of highly-sensitive species.
Jan 2014

Do birds track climate or weather?


Brooke Bateman examines if fine scale weather data provides more information for modeling bird distributions than long-term climate data.
Jan 2014

If you can't stand when it gets dry, fly north: Dickcissels reliably track extreme weather events in the Midwestern United States


What happens when it gets too dry? Brooke Bateman discovers how migratory birds like Dickcissels respond to extreme drought events in the Midwestern United States and looks at what that means for future management and conservation efforts.
Jan 2014

Where will novel ecosystems in the United States exist in the future?


Novel ecosystems, ecosystems with strong human influence are an important new challenge for ecology. Will these ecosystems increase in number in the future? Where?
Feb 2013

Future land use changes and their potential impact on the Nation's areas of biodiversity significance


Sebastian Martinuzzi investigates how future land use changes in the United States could impact the Nation's areas of biodiversity significance, with help from economic-based scenarios
Feb 2013

Conservation conflicts: Housing growth in conservation priority areas in Wisconsin


Sarah Carter uses projections of future housing development to identify those sites requiring immediate conservation attention in order to successfully conserve Wisconsin's biodiversity.
Feb 2013

Vegetation structure and bird populations across the US


Can you predict biodiversity abundance without fieldwork, sitting at your desk? Patrick Culbert can. Using satellite images and data from Breeding Bird Survey, Patrick estimates abundance of bird species across United States.
Feb 2013

Housing development is eroding the value of protected lands


Locations in and around natural areas are especially appealing for housing development. Unfortunately, this development may have undesirable consequences.
Jan 2013

How are birds breeding in New England affected by the weather?


Do we know how climate change and extreme weather conditions affect wildlife in particular bird populations?
Jan 2013

The extinction of the Caucasian bison to the creation of a new subspecies


The Caucasian subspecies of the European bison almost went extinct. Today a few herds roam again in the Caucasus Mountains, Russia, and we are collaborating with German and Russian scientists who are modeling habitat for future reintroductions.
Jan 2013

Monitoring forest disturbance and re-growth from dense time series of satellite imagery stacks in the Carpathians


The availability of multitemporal, dense time series of Landsat imagery opens new possibilities for tracking forest dynamics in areas of complex landcover in Europe
Jan 2013

Forest Songbirds and Extreme Weather: How do Drought, Heat Waves, and Cold Snaps Affect Birds?


Global climate change is increasing the incidence of extreme weather events. Jessica Gorzo, PhD candidate, is studying how these extreme events are affecting the abundance, geographical distribution, and breeding habits of forest songbirds.
Jan 2013

Necessity spawns plasticity: Siberian Cranes abandon specialist foraging behaviors after an extreme flood event


James Burnham builds on his research at Poyang Lake following a 4-month stint in the field. During the winter of 2010/2011, he saw birds he has been studying for years in unexpected places and behaviors never before documented.
Aug 2011

Magic inspires science: documenting forest pattern change in Mexico's Sierra de Manantlan Biosphere Reserve and what it means for its biodiversity and its people


Dr. Oscar Cardenas is working to better understand patterns of forest change in the Sierra de Manantlan Biosphere Reserve to develop more effective management tools addressing a range of issues from biodiversity conservation to sustainable development programs and epidemiological applications.
Aug 2011

Do we help birds when we help butterflies? Effects of oak savanna restoration for Karner blue butterfly on savanna bird communities


The Karner blue butterfly, a federally endangered species, has suffered major population declines mainly due to habitat loss since European settlement. Eric Wood investigated if restoration of oak savannas, critical habitat for this species, also provides an opportunity to protect important avian communities that use sparse canopy oak savannas during the breeding season.
Aug 2011

Going, going, going - gone! The loss of alpine meadows in Yunnan


Jodi Brandt studies mountain ecosystem succession in China. This loss of alpine pastures affects both people and biodiversity. Which factors are responsible for these changes?
Aug 2011

Predicting Broad-scale Patterns of Avian Biodiversity with Landsat Image Texture


There is not a map that predicts bird species biodiversity for the whole United States at scales that are relevant for a forester or a county planner. However, such a map is utterly needed to make realistic conservation plans.
Jul 2011

Change in and near Kavkaskzy Nature Reserve in the Caucasus Mountains


Eugenia Bragina has started an exciting new project to understand land cover changes in and around nature reserves in Russia, and how these changes affect wildlife populations.
Jul 2011

Housing Growth, Conservation Corridors, and the United States National Wildlife Refuge System


Across the US, hundreds of wildlife refuges conserve migratory birds, endangered species and their habitats. However, their relative pristine nature also attracts development and that may hamper the very conservation goals the refuges were designed to achieve.
Jul 2011

How are fires in western Mexico affecting hummingbirds?


Professor Sarahy Contreras has been studying hummingbirds in western Mexico for nearly 20 years. Her current project tackles the question of how different frequencies and intensities of post-fires affect hummingbird populations in the Sierra de Manantlan Biosphere Reserve.
Jul 2011

Conservation planning for two of Wisconsin's most treasured landscapes: the Baraboo Hills and the Northwest pine barrens


Sarah Carter has been working on Wisconsin conservation issues for more than 10 years. Her current project asks how we can identify conservation priorities in some of Wisconsin's most treasured landscapes, including the Baraboo Hills and the Northwest Wisconsin pine barrens.
Nov 2010

Weaving the conservation landscape: habitat connectivity and the future of the National Wildlife Refuge System


Could land use change threaten the US National Wildlife Refuge System? PhD student Chris Hamilton uses cutting-edge technologies to find an answer.
Nov 2010

Land-cover change, people and jaguars - remote sensing or close sensing?


Oscar Cardenas, an invited scientist in the SILVIS Lab, is working on the zoning of a biosphere reserve in Mexico where he studying jaguar habitat in order to assure the species presence for the future. While doing so, he's faced with social issues that are intrinsically and deeply related with natural resources protection and preservation and raise some new research questions.
Sep 2010

It's getting hot - heatwave and drought effects on birds


Climate change leads to increases in extreme weather. Tom Albright and co-authors investigate the effect of heatwaves and drought on bird abundance and diversity in the conterminous United States.
Aug 2010

Modeling habitat use patterns of critically endangered Siberian Cranes and other wintering waterbirds in Poyang Lake, People's Republic of China


Poyang Lake, one of China's most diverse wildlife areas, increasingly faces shifting use patterns and new threats to the wildlife and human communities who call it home. Ph.D. candidate James Burnham seeks to understand how changing lake hydro-dynamics and human impacts affect the local wildlife, particularly the critically endangered Siberian Crane.
Aug 2010

Something hit me: Moose movement and vehicle collisions in northern Sweden


In Sweden, moose are a national symbol, a major game species - and a hazard for car travel, with some 4,500 accidents per year. SILVIS researcher Wiebke Neumann is studying the patterns of moose movement and accident rates in order to improve safety to both moose and people.
Aug 2010

Of lasers, forests, birds, and collaboration: using LiDAR to predict forest structure and songbird species richness


A 2005 news item in The Sauk Prairie Eagle prompted Adrian Lesak to dive right into the emerging field of laser remote sensing for forestry and biodiversity applications while forming an international research collaboration.
Jul 2010

Things aren't as they used to be: forest disturbance, birds, and the shifting baseline syndrome


Can a bumper sticker inspire innovative research? In the case of Chad Rittenhouse PhD, a chance sighting motivated an innovative line of research that questions how changes occur in the natural world and how we perceive and measure these changes.
Jul 2010

Post-USSR Land Cover Change in Eastern Europe - Socioeconomic Forcings, Effects on Biodiversity, and Future Scenarios


With an increasing human population and expanding impact on the environment, extinctions are happening at an unprecedented pace. So what would happen if people suddenly left the land and let it return to a natural state. Well, just such a scenario is playing out in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the former U.S.S.R..
Jan 2010

Can Wisconsin's Wood Warblers Cope With the Loss of Oaks?


The woodlands of the upper Midwest are undergoing a major transformation as oak forests and savannas are being replaced by maples. How will this transformation affect Wisconsin wildlife, such as our colorful migrant wood warblers? A field team led by SILVIS researcher and graduate student Eric Wood is trying to find out.
Jan 2010