The Wolverine-Winter Recreation Project is one of the most exciting wolverine research projects currently underway in the US. Under the direction of Kim Heinemeyer of Round River Conservation Studies and John Squires of the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station, the project addresses the question of the impact of skiing and snowmobiling on wolverines. The Wolverine Foundation has supported this work in various ways, and previous progress reports are available here.
The project is currently in data analysis phase, ahead of publications that will make a substantial contribution to our understanding of wolverines and management needs in the US Rockies. During field work, the study relied on the participation of skiers and snowmobilers to help understand recreation patterns. Now we’re asking for the assistance of hikers and backpackers to help with data analysis.
The project is seeking validation of talus sites by hikers and backcountry users in the study’s field areas, which include:
The Teton Range, Wyoming and Idaho
The Madison Range, Montana
The Centennial and Henry Ranges, Montana and Idaho
The Payette, Boise, Sawtooth and Caribou-Targhee National Forests, Idaho
Contributors will be acknowledged, so please participate, and be sure to include your name when you fill out the data sheet. The form and instructions are available below, along with the project’s explanation of how the talus data will be used.
Please return completed datasheets and any site photos to idahowolverine (at) gmail (dot) com.
Talus Slope Modeling for Wolverine Habitat
Wolverine-Winter Recreation Study, Summer 2016
The Wolverine –Winter Recreation Study has identified talus slopes and particularly talus slopes that include large boulders as potentially important habitat for female denning and for resting habitat. In the winter, the large crevices, tunnels and gaps in the talus between the boulders create subnivean (under snow) spaces that may provide thermal protection for animals as well as potential foraging opportunities. A notable portion of the reproductive dens documented by the study are found in talus and associated with large boulders. Anecdotal information from other studies also suggest the importance of these habitats for foraging (e.g., on marmots). Unfortunately, there are no existing spatial datasets that identify or predict the location and/or extent of talus habitats across our study area.
We are using fine-resolution satellite imagery and other environmental variables to predict the occurrence of: 1) talus fields and 2) large boulder talus, as habitat types potentially important to wolverines (and other species). If the models prove valuable in predicting the location of these talus habitats, they will be used as a key data input in resource selection function modeling of wolverine habitat use and den site selection.
Thank you for assisting with the field data collection to support this important effort. The data you collect will assist in both refining our predictions and validating the models. At the most basic level, we need the GPS locations of many talus fields across our study area, along with some basic information on the characteristics of the slope. The short field data form below describes the information we hope you will help collect in your travels in the backcountry. You can take this information at any and all talus slopes that you encounter – every data point contributes to our effort. Your contributions will be acknowledged, so please include your name with data submitted.