Point Blue Conservation Science prbo
Sierra Nevada Avian
Monitoring Information Network


Point Blue's Sierra Nevada Avian Monitoring Post Fire

Study Design and Field Methods

We conducted point counts using standardized methods (Ralph et al. 1995, Ballard et al. 2003) where a single observer estimates the distance to the location of each individual bird they detect within a five minute time span from a fixed location. Point counts were conducted during the spring/summer breeding season in early to mid-morning when weather conditions were mild. To minimize observer bias, we had different observers conduct surveys on each of the two visits per year, and all biologists were thoroughly trained in survey techniques and bird identification.

Our study encompasses three fires: the 52,000 acre Storrie Fire that burned in the Fall of 2000, the 65,000 acre Moonlight Fire that burned in the Fall of 2007, and the 15,000 acre Cub Fire that burned in the Summer of 2008. Each of these fires burned at similar elevations (4000 - 6000 feet) and through primarily mixed conifer and true fir vegetation communities but with varying intensity patterns. To examine the locations of these three fires, our survey locations, and fire intensity maps, please see the 2009 Plumas-Lassen Administrative Study Report. Stratifications limited the survey locations to areas bounded by slope, distance to roads, and other factors that limit the accessibility of field sites. Point count locations are arranged in transects that typically follow a linear path with starting and ending points near navigable roads. The 2012 Chips Fire burned through parts of the Storrie Fire and long-term monitoring plots Point Blue had established through the Plumas-Lassen study. We resurveyed locations in the Chips/Storrie Fire and established new locations to examine the effects of salvage logging on the bird community.

In 2014, we expanded our program to include four fires in the central Sierra Nevada: the 7700 acre Freds Fire and the 18,000 acre Power Fire that both burned in the Fall of 2004, the 21,000 acre Government Fire that burned in the Summer of 2008, and the 257,000 acre Rim Fire that ignited in the Summer of 2013. We collaborated with UC Davis and the US Forest Service Region 5 Ecology program to co-locate sampling locations on plots where ecologists had already collected extensive vegetation data.

Storrie Fire of 2000 which burned at mixed severity including patches such as this with high snag density.

Private Forestry land in the Storrie fire 10 years after salvage logging and conifer re-planting.

The Moonlight fire on the Plumas National Forest burned at mostly moderate to high severity in 2007 creating large patches of high snag density.

The Cub fire on the Lassen National Forest burned at mixed severity in 2008 creating a mosaic of mixed tree mortality.

See the following report for more information on study design, methods, results, and conclusions:
2009 PLAS Report (pdf)

Click the image above to view the full size PDF version.