WILDLIFE STUDIES AND HABITAT ASSESSMENT
Sky Island Botany, Forestry and Wildlife Surveys. The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (SMNRA) includes 316,000 acres of National Forest system land west of Las Vegas. Rising to nearly 12,000 feet at the summit of Mt. Charleston, the Spring Mountains comprise six life zones, hiking trails, springs, extensive wilderness areas, and over 50 species unique to the Spring Mountains.
GBI Research Associates have been actively conducting flora and fauna surveys in the SMNRA since 2004. Over the years, RAs have conducted vegetation surveys to identify plants of management concern, surveys for butterfly host plants, neotropical migrant bird surveys, acoustical bat inventories, and northern goshawk and owl surveys.
Wild Horse and Burro Herd Management. In southern Nevada, RAs collect information regarding wild horse and burro populations to weigh the balance between wild horse and burro populations and other public land users. Overarching objectives for this program include assessing rangeland health in the Spring Mountains and Gold Butte Herd Management Areas (HMA); developing Herd Management Area Plans (HMAPs) that guide the long-term management of wild horse and burro populations; improving water sources and monitoring the spring/water development flow in the Nevada Wild Horse Range (NWHR) and the Red Rock HMAs; and supporting emergency gathers on the NWHR.
Desert Tortoise Conservation. The desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) is federally listed as a threatened species north and west of the Colorado River under the Endangered Species Act. In partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 2007, GBI has fielded an annual team of Research Associates to conduct Line Distance Sampling (LDS) monitoring of eastern Mojave Desert tortoise populations in Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. As part of a 25-year monitoring program, LDS monitoring and tracking of radio telemetered tortoises takes place in April and May of each year. This intensive monitoring effort also requires a dedicated technical support staff including a project coordinator, data specialist, and GIS specialist.
Pacific Fisher. GBI RAs study the population dynamics of a small, isolated population of fishers (Pekania pennanti) in southern Sierra Nevada, California near Yosemite National Park. Fishers in this region are struggling to exist in the face of threats from logging, forest fires, highway vehicle collisions, and poisons being used around illegal marijuana grow sites between Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.
This work has been valuable and timely in light of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposal to list the west coast population of fisher as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Sage-Grouse. The greater sage-grouse has been considered for listing as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act by US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the work of GBI Research Associates has supported informed studies to help agencies better assess the species’ well-being. GBI RAs have participated in population monitoring, trapping, radio telemetry and habitat assessments across northern Nevada, in Idaho and in California.
Flying Squirrel. GBI Research Associates, in partnership with Nevada Department of Wildlife and Nevada State Parks, have conducted population surveys of northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus) in the Carson Range along Lake Tahoe’s east shore. Using traps and radio-telemetry collars, researchers collect data about population make-up, density and habitat requirements about this little-known nocturnal species. The study develops a Habitat Suitability Model that will inform land management decisions in the Tahoe Basin moving forward.
California Condor. In 2014, GBI signed a cooperative agreement with the US Fish & Wildlife Service to support monitoring and management of the California Condor Recovery program in California’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. GBI Research Associates assist with management of the refuge and coordinate volunteer and public outreach efforts in order to bring greater public understanding of, and appreciation for, this noble endangered species.