The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument lies at the heart of a unique ecological landscape less than 20 miles outside of KBO’s home in Ashland, OR. This summer, with the support of the Medford BLM, KBO initiated a new long-term monitoring study which aims to understand the bird communities within the oak and grassland habitats in the Monument.
The Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument was the first U.S. National Monument set aside specifically for preservation of biodiversity. It was created in 2000, the same year KBO was officially incorporated. The Monument was created to protect biodiversity, including migratory birds that needed protection to prevent or reverse recent population declines. The Monument, and its expansion in 2017, provided critical habitat for many migratory bird species, including species that rely on oak and grassland habitat. Previous KBO studies have demonstrated measurable benefits of removing livestock from the Monument, as well as the benefit of increasing the amount of bird habitat that is protected within the boundaries of the expanded Monument. (Read the full story behind KBO’s science in the Monument here, and check out our Decision Support Tool about adaptive management in the Monument here.)
KBO has similar long-term monitoring studies throughout our study region. The advantage of long-term monitoring, compared to our other field studies, is that it allows us to detect trends in bird populations, and provides data that will inform future restoration or conservation planning efforts within protected areas. For example, KBO has been conducting bird monitoring in partnership with the National Park Service Klamath Network Inventory & Monitoring Program in six national parks since 2008. The rich dataset that long-term monitoring efforts produce also leads to studies that improve our scientific tools. A recent publication used long-term monitoring data with our partnership with the KLMN to better understand how focal bird species can be used as indicators of ecosystem health.
The new monitoring project in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument focuses primarily on oak and grassland habitats, a priority conservation focus for this region. KBO has been conducting oak-associated bird monitoring in associated with numerous restoration projects in our study region for over a decade, but oak habitats have so far been underrepresented in KBO’s other long-term monitoring projects. Long-term trend data for oak-associated bird species as part of the new monitoring project will not only help inform habitat objectives within the Monument, but will have valuable applications for other oak restoration projects in our study region.