DEBATE OF '98- responsibilities of forest land owners

dwheeler at dwheeler at
Tue Apr 28 17:33:09 EST 1998

In article <3545d2fb.0 at>,
  dhogaza at (Don Baccus) wrote:
> In article <6i3s7b$ksi$1 at>,  <dwheeler at> wrote:
> >In article <3544bc4a.0 at>,
> >  dhogaza at (Don Baccus) wrote:
> >> Hmm...when did he publish this?  The flying squirrel stuff came from very
> >> early studies in the 1970s and of course far many more nso, in many
> >> more locales in the PNW, have been studied since then.
> >Chris Maser was the original scientific source for much of the data now
> >cosidered in the so-called New Forestry. Here are some sources:
> Yes, I know very well who Chris is, and met him several years ago when he
> was keynote speaker at the Portland Audubon Annual Banquet.
> He's a forest ecologist specializing in mammal, fungus, and tree
> relationships in our wet westside coniferous forests.
But he started out as a small mammal specialist for the Bureau of Land
Management. It was in this capacity that he did his first study on the
California Red-backed vole from a proposed clearcut in Northern California in,
I think, 1973. At that time, the California Red-backed vole was on the
endangered species list. Maser proved that the vole was a) not rare, b) the
most abundant animal west of the Cascades, and c) still a major source of food
for the nso. Later, the nso situation arose with the Audubon Society adding
its considerable weight.

> My specific question regards his claims vis-a-vis the relative importance
> of flying squirrel and red-backed vole for nso.
> Eric Forsman's the guy who did the key nso studies.  Johnsgard cites him
> (1988) as follows:
> "The most complete analysis of spotted owl foods is that of Forsman, Meslow,
> and Wight (1984), whose data were based on more than 4,500 identified prey
> items from 62 pairs in various parts of Oregon.  On both a frequency of
> occurence and biomass basis the most important single prey species there
> is the northern flying squirrel...
In 1984, nso was nearly unknown outside of old-growth forests. Now they are
known from fairly young (30-45 year old) plantations. This may affect the
frequency of voles vs. flying squirrels. I _believe_ flying squirrels are far
more common East of the Cascades than West.> But since they are nearly
exclusively noctural (as are the California red-backed vole) they are largely
unseen during the day. I did have one fly into a pole-barn shiitake shed in
Washington during the day. I don't know who was more stunned: the squirrel,
which took quite a bump and wandered around in a daze for several minutes; or
me, who had never seen one alive before.

At any rate, I believe it was Maser and Trappe who identified mostly vole adn
wood rat remains in nso fecal pellets west of the Cascades, and predominantly
Northern Flying squirrel remains east of the Cascades.

An additional 30 species of mammals were represented, with wood rats and
> hares or rabbits of special significance, plus 23 species of birds, 2
> of reptiles, and various invertebrates...
> In wet coniferous forests the flying squirrel was the principle prey
> species, while in mixed conifers wood rats were of primary importance
> [Don sez he means forests like those around the Klamath Basin, which
> Johnsgard is differentiating from "wet coniferous forests", i.e. those west
> of the Cascade ranage].  Flying squirrels were also seasonally most important
> during fall and winter, while during spring and summer a bigger variety
> of foods was consumed, especially deer mice, voles, and other small
> mammals"
Trappe and Maser also note that flying squirrels east of the Cascades eat
nearly nothing but truffles from January through June. From June-December,
they eat mostly lichens and sometimes mushrooms.

> Johnsgard then goes on to point out that in the Rockies spotted owl
> are dependent on wood rats.
> I'm not saying Maser's wrong, just curious about the source of his
> information, because he's not an nso specialist though he's done
> a lot of work with nso prey species.  Forsman's the nso expert,
> though the work I cite is now 18 years old.  Nso's been greatly
> studied since, and prey importance varies with locale and there
> have been surprises.  For instance, Johnsgard doesn't mention that
> nso in redwood forests are also heavily dependent on wood rat,
> understandable because he published his owl book in 1988 before
> that information had been uncovered by biologists.

> If you track down cites of Forsman's work on nso, you'll find a very long
> list...just as you do for Maser's fungus/mammal/tree interdependency work.
Thanks for replying Don. I was not familiar with Forsman's work, and now will
have an excuse to hunt it out.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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