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, NWS, UI RiverNET, UI MESA, USFS RAWS, ISU Stream Monitoring, ISU Sonic Ranging Device, NOAA, IDFG).
Several classes of high school, undergraduate, and graduate students visit TWRS yearly to experience hands-on research education. For nearly 20 years, students in McCall High School’s Environmental Studies class have flown into Cabin Creek and hike downriver to Taylor Ranch. Also making annual trips are the McCall Outdoor Science School graduate students, Idaho State University’s Watershed Hydrology course, and Idaho State University’s Stream Ecology Center students.
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.
TWRS is now collaborating with the Columbia Habitat Monitoring Program (CHAMP) to incorporate the Big Creek drainage into the larger Columbia River Basin monitoring. This is a long term monitoring effort intended to determine indicators of the health of the Columbia Basin salmonid population.
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.
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.
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.
Installed in 2008 on TWRS property, the RAWS station records current environmental conditions as well as fuel conditions to determine the fire weather conditions in forecast zone 402.
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.
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, (NOAA) Scientist
Research Focus: Migration timing, growth, and parr-to-smolt survival rates of wild Snake River Chinook salmon. 15-year monitoring dataset density dependent mortality of wild Snake River Chinook salmon. Research equipment installed at TWRS in 2006: PIT tag antenna arrays monitor migration of tagged fish and send data to PTAGIS website, Sonde water quality monitor. 1994 - present
Idaho Regional Fisheries Manager, Idaho Department of Fish and Game
Research Focus: Idaho steelhead monitoring and evaluation study, population dynamics and life history characteristics of steelhead trout and Chinook salmon in Big Creek, an indicator watershed 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 installed 2007: Rotary juvenile screw trap worked daily to capture, PIT tag, and collect data on juvenile anadromous fish.
State Fish Research Biologist
Research Focus: Idaho steelhead monitoring and evaluation study, population dynamics and life history characteristics of steelhead trout and Chinook salmon in Big Creek, an indicator watershed 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 installed 2007: Rotary juvenile screw trap worked daily to capture, PIT tag, and collect data on juvenile anadromous fish.
Jim and Holly Akenson
(UI/Idaho Department of Fish and Game) - Sensitive species reporting and surveys (including Harlequin duck, wolverine, and fisher); winter ungulate population monitoring (1998-present).
(National Marine Fisheries Service, 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).
Dr. Benjamin Crosby
(ISU) - "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-present).
Idaho Chapter of Foundation for North American Wild Sheep
(FNAWS) and Taylor Wilderness Research Station (Jim and Holly Akenson) - Annual bighorn sheep winter composition survey (2001-2009).
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
(IDFG) - Elk counts and elk sightability population estimates with annual flights on fixed wing aircraft (1961-1989); helicopter sightability flights every three years (1989-2005).
Dr. Wayne Minshall
(ISU) - monitoring of aquatic invertebrates on 7 streams (Rush Cr., Pioneer Cr., Cliff Cr., Cougar Cr., Goat Cr., Cow Cr., and Cave Cr.) around Taylor Ranch Field Station from 1988 to Present. "Biomonitoring results from wilderness streams in Idaho."
Dr. Jim Peek
(UI) - Monitoring of nonforested plant communities (1988-present).
Dr. Chuck Peterson
(ISU) - Amphibian population monitoring (1994-present).
Dr. Beth Sanderson
(National Marine Fisheries, NOAA) - Monitoring habitat, growth and survival of juvenile Chinook and steelhead in Big Creek and Rush Creek.
Taylor Wilderness Research Station
Daily climatological temperature and precipitation data as a cooperative research station (1974-present), Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS) in operation (2008-present).