Sierra Nevada Avian Diversity

Since 2016, I have been developing and implementing a landscape-scale passive acoustic monitoring program in California’s Sierra Nevada. The project began in the Lassen and Plumas National Forests (the northern end of the ecosystem) with a focus on the California Spotted Owl and an invasive competitor, the Barred Owl. We’ve now grown to encompass the entire forest ecosystem – 1,700 survey locations spanning 25,000 km2 – and nearly the entire bird community – over 100 species!

The expansion from two owls to the entire bird community is powered by the BirdNET algorithm, which was developed by my colleague Dr. Stefan Kahl. We are using a customized version of BirdNET which is calibrated specifically to the species in the region and the recording equipment we’re using.

How do disturbances like fire, drought-induced tree mortality, and ecosystem restoration treatments affect biodiversity? What environmental features (and at what spatial scales) determine the spatial structuring of biodiversity? What are the population trends of key focal species across their range? These questions are now within reach! Stay tuned…

This project is particularly collaborative. Field operations are run through Dr. Zach Peery’s Lab at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and we work closely with the U.S. Forest Service Region 5 and the National Park Service to co-develop research questions to maximize the conservation impacts of our work. External funding sources include NASA and CAL FIRE.

Survey coverage in 2021

Representative Publications

  1. Brunk, KM, RJ Gutiérrez, CA Cansler, MZ Peery, and CM Wood. 2023. Quail on fire: Changing fire regimes may benefit mountain quail in fire-adapted forests. Fire Ecology 19:19
  2. Wood, CM, S Kahl, P Chaon, MZ Peery, and H Klinck. 2021. Survey coverage, recording duration, and species composition affect observed species richness in passive acoustic surveys. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 12:885-896.
  3. Wood, CM1, VD Popescu1, H Klinck, JJ Keane, RJ Gutiérrez, SC Sawyer, and MZ Peery. Detecting small changes in populations at landscape scales: A bioacoustic site-occupancy framework. Ecological Indicators 98: 492-507. 1contributed equally