Faculty/staff note: A new tool for measuring health of northern forests

Erin Giese, data management specialist for the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity, and graduate student Nicholas Walton, under the guidance of center director Prof. Bob Howe, Associate Prof. Amy Wolf and Nicholas Miller of The Nature Conservancy, have created an online tool that uses bird surveys to measure the ecological health of northern mesic forests in the western Great Lakes region. This tool builds on a model originally developed by Howe, Gerald Niemi of the University of Minnesota-Duluth and others for Great Lakes coastal wetlands (2007). Giese and colleagues created the method for her UW-Green Bay graduate thesis project and applied it to the Wild Rivers Legacy Forest in northern Wisconsin. The new website features an extended version of the model including a downloadable calculator with specific how-to instructions. Although it is already being used by The Nature Conservancy for forest conservation in Wisconsin, the method has many potential applications for both private and public forest managers — a great example of practical, problem-focused research at UW-Green Bay. Check it out.