Mammalian Ecology and Management in Protected Areas

Science Center Objects

National parks and other protected areas are key components of the wildlife conservation landscape. The goal of wildlife managers in national parks is to preserve the ecological integrity and authenticity of natural systems for future generations. Wildlife populations of national parks, however, are in continuous flux as a result of changing land uses outside their boundaries, climate variability, human visitation, or dynamic ecosystem processes within their boundaries. Although the general practice has been to let natural processes operate within national parks to the extent possible, management may be required to adapt to changing environmental conditions, protect special-status wildlife populations, control unwanted exotic species, and restore altered wildlife communities, ecosystem processes, or extirpated species.

Our work, conducted in close cooperation with the National Park Service, universities and Tribal scientists, aims to increase understanding of mammalian ecology in and around national parks in the Pacific Northwest to help inform wildlife management decisions. Examples of recent and ongoing research projects, each related to a specific wildlife management question in national parks, include the following:

  • Influences of changing land uses on Roosevelt elk populations in and adjacent to Mount Rainier National Park
  • Population declines of caribou in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve
  • Effects of proposed wolf reintroduction on Roosevelt elk in Olympic National Park
  • Long-term effects of dam removal and salmon restoration on black bears, mid-sized carnivores, small mammals, and amphibians in the Elwha Valley, Olympic National Park
  • Fisher restoration in Olympic National Park
  • Influences of fire fuels management on the western Gray Squirrel in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area
  • Population trends of non-native mountain goats following management reductions
  • Spatial-use patterns of food-conditioned Cascades Red Foxes in Mount Rainier National Park