Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y071028

    Landscape Analysis of Habitat Supply and Effects on Populations of the Northern Spotted Owl in BC: extension of results
Project lead: Waterhouse, F. Louise
Contributing Authors: Sutherland, Glenn D.; Fall, S. Andrew; O'Brien, Daniel T.; Waterhouse, F. Louise; Harestad, Alton S.
Imprint: [BC] :, 2007
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Northern spotted owl, British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
The Northern Spotted Owl is an Endangered subspecies in Canada, facing extirpation from British Columbia (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada 2001). The Canadian Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Team (CSORT) collaborated with modelers, analysts and topic experts to develop a management/habitat-focused model framework to assist the CSORT in developing components of their 'Recovery Planí related to population and critical habitat goals (Federal Species at Risk Act), and to assist stakeholders and decision-makers consider trade-offs between species habitat management and other resource uses (Sutherland et al. in review). The model framework consists of: 1) a landscape dynamics model that projects forest growth, forest harvesting, and stand-replacing natural disturbances, 2) a spatially explicit Spotted Owl (SPOW) habitat supply model, 3) a spatially explicit population model, 4) a territory model for identifying numbers and locations of potential territories, 5) a connectivity model for identifying potential movement corridors, connectivity of habitat in relation to both the existing population, and to core areas of current and future habitat capable of supporting SPOW sub-populations, 6) a Bayesian belief network framework (BBN) for integrating habitat attributes measured at multiple spatial and temporal scales, and 7) a reserve location model for identifying potential management units based on integrated measures of habitat quality projected through time. Types of analytical deliverables produced by the model are: (1) indicators of timber impact, habitat supply, maximum territory capacity, and SPOW population status under alternative management scenarios, given uncertainty in demography and habitat succession; (2) estimates of the range of natural variability for SPOW/habitat relationships, and (3) relative rankings of management scenarios in terms of their impact on SPOW habitat supply and population. A general, technical report (BC MoF Research Branch Forest Sciences Program Special Report 2005/2006) by Sutherland et al. (in review) was submitted to FSP (Project Y062074) that describes the overall project and model framework, and summarizes the findings. Consistent with our original proposal to FSP (Y062074), this research has resulted in the creation of innovative approaches to 1) the structure and applications of spatio-temporal ecological models used for assessments of policy; and 2) proactive reserve design for habitat protection and recovery planning for species at risk. We are confident that at least two additional peer reviewed journal publications will be the appropriate vehicles for presenting further technical details on these findings to an audience of applied conservation scientists, resource managers, and policy makers. These publications will place the outcomes and results of this project in context with the current literature on reserve design modelling, and recovery planning for species at risk, in addition to providing extension of these ideas for general application with other species. Through a discussion of the case study involving recovery planning for Spotted Owls in B.C., the first paper will address the application of the model framework for informing land-use policy development. This paper will provide perspective to how our distinctive approach compares to other modelling efforts, with a particular emphasis on the effectiveness of informing policy planning given implicit and explicit uncertainties in projecting ecological outcomes for a species, and limited information on population demographics and habitat use. The second paper will examine application of the model framework for assessing habitat quality and identifying potential reserve locations. Specifically, we will describe new methods we developed for assessing current and future habitat potential both in terms of amount and spatial configuration, and analytical tools for predicting likely locations of future population centres based on multiple factors. Our central innovation here is an efficient method for locating reserves based on current and future habitat requirements for a study species. This method identifies locations and amounts of currently suitable and restorable habitat to meet requirements for both the current population, and potential future population as defined by population recovery targets, and has general application in recovery planning for other species at risk and for regions or ecosystems that have been heavily modified by human activities. The concepts and results communicated through these papers will report, to a high scientific standard, the culmination of the Spotted Owl modelling process. Most importantly, these papers will provide a comprehensive structured framework for synthesizing the current knowledge base, which becomes a benchmark for evaluating effectiveness of current efforts for recovery planning for species at risk, and forms a standard by which adaptive management of forest plans can be assessed.
Related projects:  FSP_Y082028
Contact: Waterhouse, F. Louise, (250) 751-7123,


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Updated August 16, 2010 

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