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Research

Research at Taylor Wilderness Research Station

Following Maurice Hornocker’s pioneering research, graduate student and faculty research has spanned topics such as mountain lion and big game range; aquatic stream biology; forest owl habitat; wintering passerines; bobcat ecology; archeological study of Sheepeater Indians; forest typing; mountain lion, bighorn sheep, elk, and mule deer interactions; ungulate vegetation use and grazing behavior; spotted knapweed; aquatic invertebrates; non-forested plant communities; interrelationships among habitat, vegetation, wildlife, climate, and fire; hydrology; river ecology, ichthyology, and ornithology. And today, a host of environmental monitoring activities ensue (Aeronet, UI RiverNET, ISU Stream Monitoring, ISU Sonic Ranging Device, NOAA, IDFG).

Student groups making annual trips include UI’s McCall Outdoor Science School graduate students, UI’s Writing in the Wild graduate scholars, Boise State University’s Protected Areas in a Changing World course, and Idaho State University’s Watershed Hydrology and Stream Ecology Center students.

Current Projects

TWRS has become a collaborator in NASA’s Aerosol Robotics Network (AERONET) as one of 500+ sites around the world used to measure aerosols and their movement in the atmosphere.

TWRS is collaborating with ISU and BSU to install acoustic sensors for long term monitoring of avian and bat species that are using the Big Creek drainage. A potential application of this project is to monitor in and out migration of avian species in a changing climate as well as avian and bat species diversity.

Sampling plots are being reestablished to continue monitoring changes in Blue Bunch Wheat Grass biomass. BBWG is a major dietary component of Mountain Sheep in the FCRONRW and may be a good indicator of the health of this population.

The Bleak Wilderness Internship and the DeVlieg Foundation’s Undergraduate Research Internship fund up to six University of Idaho undergraduate students to live for ten weeks at TWRS, participate in faculty workshops, and work with faculty mentors to propose a research project, collect data, and write and present a final report.

A Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) mark recapture and recovery (MRR) site at TWRS is part of a regional database within the Columbia River Basin, referred to as PITAGIS. Annual visits are made to tag juvenile salmon and maintain the tag sensor array within Big Creek.

RiverNET instrumentation gathers fine scale temporal measurements of Big Creek tributaries to acquire detailed measurements for ongoing reach-scale ecological studies; recording stream water temperature, discharge, dissolved oxygen and conductivity near the mouths of Pioneer, Cliff and Rush Creeks.

View RiverNET data and Dr. Brian Kennedy's faculty website

University of Idaho Graduate Research Project in conjunction with RiverNET: An examination of the impacts of spawning Chinook salmon on nutrient dynamics in the Big Creek watershed.

University of Idaho Graduate Research Project in conjunction with RiverNET and IDFG Screw Trap: An evaluation of the efficacy of fish trap data.

Wild steelhead trout and Chinook salmon, listed as ‘threatened’ in Idaho under the Endangered Species Act, are monitored by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to assess their performance in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

For more than three decades, daily weather measurements have been recorded and include maximum, minimum, and 8AM temperature readings, as well as precipitation accumulation and distribution.

Long Term Research

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Migration timing, growth, and parr-to-smolt survival rates of wild Snake River Chinook salmon. A monitoring dataset initiated in 1994 looking at density dependent mortality of wild Snake River Chinook salmon. Research equipment was installed at TWRS in 2006: PIT tag antenna arrays monitor migration of tagged fish and send data to PTAGIS website, Sonde water quality monitor.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game
An Idaho steelhead monitoring and evaluation study looking at population dynamics and life history characteristics of steelhead trout and Chinook salmon in Big Creek. Big Creek is an indicator watershed used to reconstruct the steelhead and Chinook egg-to-juvenile-to-adult life cycle to estimate numbers of juveniles migrating downstream and migration survival rates, and describe the genetic structure of steelhead in Big Creek. Research equipment was installed in 2007: a rotary juvenile screw trap worked daily to capture, PIT tag, and collect data on juvenile anadromous fish.

National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA
Conducting annual PIT tagging of Chinook salmon parr on Big Creek and Rush Creek at Taylor Wilderness Research Station to assess juvenile salmon survival rates at dams (1988-present).

Idaho State University’s Stream Ecology Center

Monitoring of aquatic invertebrates on 7 streams around TWRS (Rush Cr., Pioneer Cr., Cliff Cr., Cougar Cr., Goat Cr., Cow Cr., and Cave Cr.) "Biomonitoring results from wilderness streams in Idaho" (1988-present).

Taylor Wilderness Research Station
Daily temperature and precipitation (1974-present).

Taylor Wilderness Research Station - Dr. Jim Peek and Taylor Summer Interns
Monitoring of nonforested plant communities (1988-present).

Taylor Wilderness Research Station - Dr. Jocelyn Aycrigg and Taylor Summer Interns
A long-term bird survey using citizen science and systematic sampling methods widely used in bird population research to examine bird populations (2016-present).

Taylor Wilderness Research Station - Peter Gag and Taylor Summer Interns
Examining number, sex, and age class of Bighorn Sheep using visual observation (2016-present).

United States Forest Service Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS)
Basic observable weather including temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, precipitation and “fuel stick temperature” used to monitor fire weather conditions in forecast zone 402 (2008-2017).

Mountainous Ecosystem Sensor Array (MESA)
Atmospheric, hydrological, and biospheric conditions are measured across an elevation gradient. Sensors record carbon dioxide, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, precipitation, barometric pressure, soil water and temperature, tree radial growth, and leaf wetness (2012 - 2017).

Idaho State University - Dr. Benjamin Crosby
"Maintenance and calibration of digital stream flow measurements at Taylor Wilderness Research Station bridge; data used to evaluate how stream flow affects the many biological and physical processes studied at Taylor" (2008-2016).

Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Taylor Wilderness Research Station - Jim and Holly Akenson
Sensitive species reporting and surveys (including Harlequin duck, wolverine, and fisher); winter ungulate population monitoring (1998-2010).

Idaho Chapter of Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and Taylor Wilderness Research Station - Jim and Holly Akenson
Annual bighorn sheep winter composition survey (2001-2009).

Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Elk counts and elk sightability population estimates with annual flights on fixed wing aircraft (1961-1989); helicopter sightability flights every three years (1989-2005).

Idaho State University - Dr. Chuck Peterson
Amphibian population monitoring.