assessment of sustainability of our forests

Southern Forest Resource Assessment

led by the USDA Forest Service's Southern Region and Southern Research Station in collaboration with the USEPA, US Fish & Wildlife, TVA, and state forestry agencies of the Southern United States

Broad Category: Landscape/Terrestrial Ecosystems

Question Manager:  Dr. Margaret Katherine Trani (Griep), USDA Forest Service, Southern Region.

Question TERRA-5: What conditions will be needed to maintain plant and animal species associations in the South?

  1. Evaluate the role that various forest types and successional stages (including monotypic stands) play in providing wildlife habitat.
  2. Consider game, non-game and Threatened and Endangered species.
  3. Describe general habitat characteristics necessary to sustain viable populations of forest wildlife.
  4. Evaluate the role of coarse woody debris and snags and address their availability.
  5. Include the effects of vertical structure of forests in this analysis.
  6. Identify current and anticipated threats to these habitat associations.
  7. Evaluate native forests, corridors and linkages, diversity of types and interior Forest "core areas", fire dependent communities, managed forests, mature forests and fragmentation.

Examined from a wildlife species perspective, specific points to be addressed (among others) in answering the question:

a. Evaluate the role that forest composition and structure, successional stage (e.g., early successional and old-growth forests), and other habitat characteristics necessary to sustain viable populations of forest game and non-game species.

b. Evaluate the influence of landscape characteristics upon selected wildlife: corridors and linkages, spatial heterogeneity, remote areas, patch size, edge, and interior forest.

c. Identify current and anticipatedthreats to theseassociations(including disturbance type or the lack thereof), critical and emerging habitat needs, and habitats requiring restoration (e.g., longleaf pine).


Methods of analysis

The question will employ a species screen to guide the analysis.  Species included will meet one of the following criteria: federally proposed, threatened, and endangered species; species with viability concerns; game species; species with high management or public interest (e.g., avian species with Partners in Flight concern scores of 22 and above); species with demanding habitat requirements; and keystone species.

Quantitative descriptions of relative abundance trends (if known) and habitat conditions required by a selected species or species association will be compiled from the sources listed below as well as from the scientific literature.

As an example, USFWS Breeding Bird Survey data will be used to track population trends from the mid-1960's to present day by species group (e.g., grassland birds, shrub/scrub birds, mature timber birds, area-sensitive birds, and others).  Partners in Flight plans will be used to identify species and habitat needs by assemblage and by physiographic areas in the southeast.

Data Sources: State management plans, USFWS recovery plans (e.g., Florida panther, Louisiana Black Bear, Indiana Bat, Red Cockaded Woodpecker), USFWS Breeding Bird Survey, Partners in Flight physiographic plans, regional bat conservation plans, So. Appalachian Black Bear management plan, USFS Southern Region Old-Growth Strategy, Southern Appalachian Assessment, selected subregional assessments (e.g., Ouachita and Mississippi Alluvial Valley assessments), North American Waterfowl Management Plan, Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, Quail Study Group, Joint Ventures, and extensive literature reviews.


The partial list of desirable products, such as those listed below, will be presented for each taxa or species group, where possible.  Examples include:

1.  Tabular presentation of high concern avian species by state and ranking criteria.

2.  Tabular presentation of avian species known to breed and inhabit the SE by physiographic area.

3.  Map presentation of bird physiographic areas.

4.  Map presentation of desirable black bear habitat; description of historic range.

5.  Graphical presentation of remote timberland, all timberland, and all land for each state. *

6.  Graphical presentation of relative abundance/harvest trends for game and furbearer species.

7.  General descriptions of conditions needed by species association (e.g., tract size requirements for priority species) and management recommendations, where appropriate.

8.  Tabular presentation of listed species by taxa and state.

9.  Reference state maps and GAP reports on species conservation ranking and protection in the SE. **

Collaborators and Sources: Partners in Flight, Partners in Reptile and Amphibian Conservation (PARC), SE Association of Fish and Wildlife Managers, Southern Appalachian Black Bear study group, Fish and Wildlife Service, Fish and Wildlife State Agencies (13 states), Bat Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy, State Heritage programs, The Amphibian Monitoring Program (Sam Droege), and others as the analysis progresses.

Links to other questions:  This question ties into information collected on native plant communities (Landscape/Terrestrial Question 2); will reference causal factors discussed within the forest management and land use sections (Landscape/Terrestrial Questions 3 and 4); and  also links to Question 1, Landscape/Terrestrial, regarding present status of wildlife habitats.  Other links include the status of wetlands and herptiles (Question 2 and 5, Watersheds, Aquatic/Riparian Ecosystems, and Forested Wetlands).

Unresolved Issues: 

The predominance of data available (particularly existing conservation and management plans) will likely center on birds, mammals, and game species.  Serious gaps in PIF data and conservation plans occur for Texas and Oklahoma.

Time frame: July 2000 (data compilation); October 2000 (analysis); March 2001 (synthesis and draft completion).  It may be possible to meet this time frame, dependent upon other job duties and responsibilities as assigned.  Establishing contacts, obtaining information and follow-ups with the Collaborators listed above will be very time-consuming.  The GAP information will require additional processing and analysis; data will not be available from each state by March 2001. 

*    Data required from Forest Inventory and Analysis

**  Data required from individual state GAP Analysis Projects



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 modified: 2-MAR-2000