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Collaborative wildlife-snow science: Integrating wildlife and snow expertise to improve research and management

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


  • A.K. Reinking, Colorado State University, USA
  • Stine Højlund Pedersen, Colorado State University, University of Alaska Anchorage
  • ,
  • Kelly Elder, U.S. Forest Service, USA
  • Natalie T. Boelman, Columbia University
  • ,
  • T.W. Glass, Wildlife Conservation Society, USA
  • B.A. Oates, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, USA
  • Scott Bergen, Idaho Fish and Game, USA
  • Shane Roberts, Idaho Fish and Game, USA
  • Laura R. Prugh, University of Washington
  • ,
  • Todd J. Brinkman, University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA
  • M.B. Coughenour, Colorado State University, USA
  • J.A. Feltner, University of Montana, USA
  • K.J. Barker, University of California at Berkeley, USA
  • T.W. Bentzen, Alaska Dept Fish & Game, Alaska Department of Fish & Game, USA
  • Åshild Ønvik Pedersen, Norwegian Polar Institute
  • ,
  • Niels Martin Schmidt
  • Glen Liston, Colorado State University, USA

For wildlife inhabiting snowy environments, snow properties such as onset date, depth, strength, and distribution can influence many aspects of ecology, including movement, community dynamics, energy expenditure, and forage accessibility. As a result, snow plays a considerable role in individual fitness and ultimately population dynamics, and its evaluation is, therefore, important for comprehensive understanding of ecosystem processes in regions experiencing snow. Such understanding, and particularly study of how wildlife–snow relationships may be changing, grows more urgent as winter processes become less predictable and often more extreme under global climate change. However, studying and monitoring wildlife–snow relationships continue to be challenging because characterizing snow, an inherently complex and constantly changing environmental feature, and identifying, accessing, and applying relevant snow information at appropriate spatial and temporal scales, often require a detailed understanding of physical snow science and technologies that typically lie outside the expertise of wildlife researchers and managers. We argue that thoroughly assessing the role of snow in wildlife ecology requires substantive collaboration between researchers with expertise in each of these two fields, leveraging the discipline-specific knowledge brought by both wildlife and snow professionals. To facilitate this collaboration and encourage more effective exploration of wildlife–snow questions, we provide a five-step protocol: (1) identify relevant snow property information; (2) specify spatial, temporal, and informational requirements; (3) build the necessary datasets; (4) implement quality control procedures; and (5) incorporate snow information into wildlife analyses. Additionally, we explore the types of snow information that can be used within this collaborative framework. We illustrate, in the context of two examples, field observations, remote-sensing datasets, and four example modeling tools that simulate spatiotemporal snow property distributions and, in some cases, evolutions. For each type of snow data, we highlight the collaborative opportunities for wildlife and snow professionals when designing snow data collection efforts, processing snow remote sensing products, producing tailored snow datasets, and applying the resulting snow information in wildlife analyses. We seek to provide a clear path for wildlife professionals to address wildlife–snow questions and improve ecological inference by integrating the best available snow science through collaboration with snow professionals.

TidsskriftEcosphere (Washington, D.C.)
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2022

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