banding tanagers

To find out more about research currently being conducted on the refuge, or to discuss research  proposals, contact the Southeast Idaho NWRC at 208-237-6615, ext 111.


 Wetland State-and-Transition Model Project

Intensive monitoring of vegetation, water quality and soils has taken place since the summer of 2014 to gather data on the current state of certain wetland units on the refuge.  Monitoring with an identical protocol has taken place during this same time frame on 49 wetland units within 12 National Wildlife Refuges across Regions 1, 6 and 8 in the intermountain west and western prairie pothole region.  This monitoring and continued monitoring will help design a tool to determine effects of potential management actions.  Learn more about the Wetland State and Transition Model project


Spring and Fall Waterbird Migration Monitoring

Weekly counts of waterbirds including waterfowl are conducted during both spring and fall migration.  This allows refuge staff to track efficacy of management actions in increasing bird numbers on the refuge.  Additionally, numbers of bird species can be made available to inform local bird watchers and hunters of what species are using the refuge.

Secretive Marshbird Playback Call Monitoring

Certain species of marshbirds (namely Sora, Virginia Rail, American Bittern, Pied-billed Grebe and Wilson’s Snipe) can be difficult to detect on visual bird surveys.  A method that plays calls of each species from a speaker and records response from each species is used to document occurrence and abundance during the spring.

Hay Unit Restoration

The refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan called for reduction in haying on wet meadows of the refuge.  Monitoring is currently underway to determine if bird species composition and abundance and vegetation community and structure change as these areas are placed into a more dynamic management regime.

Water Quality, Quantity and Management

Water quality parameters including: pH, specific conductance, salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen and turbidity are monitored in each management unit to track changes over the seasons.  Water levels in each management unit are monitored on a weekly basis to track changes over the season that are a result of management actions and natural drawdown and flood-up.  Management actions taken at water control structures on each unit are recorded as they happen.  All of the following information is compiled into an annual report to inform management how management actions affect water quality and quantity.  Water quality and quantity have direct impacts on the vegetation and wildlife species using management units of the refuge.

NABat Monitoring

Acoustic detectors are used during the summer to monitor bat species composition.  This monitoring is a part of a national project to monitor bat and is becoming increasingly important in our region as White-nose Syndrome expands westward.

Emergent Vegetation Treatment Monitoring

Prescribed fire, mechanical disturbance and other management tools used to decrease the amount of decadent emergent wetland vegetation in many units of the refuge.  Many units on the refuge are dominated by emergent vegetation which does not allow much open water.  A more balanced mix of open water and emergent vegetation is beneficial to a greater suite of wildlife species. Monitoring depth-of-burn, plant species composition, bird use, and water quality before and after management treatments will allow refuge staff to quantify the effectiveness of these tools in achieving habitat objectives set forth in the refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan.

Avian Use of Croplands

Weekly counts that focus on Sandhill Crane, Canada Goose, Swainson’s Hawk and Short-eared Owl are conducted on both active and fallow crop fields during the fall to determine if current crop management practices are meeting refuge management objectives set forth in the refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan.  Other avian species using crops are documented as well to provide information on the full suite of species that utilize refuge crops.

Fourth of July Butterfly Survey

The refuge participates in the nationwide Fourth of July butterfly survey organized by the North American Butterfly Association to document butterfly species composition and abundance once annually in July.

Photo Point Monitoring

Fixed points are set up around the refuge units to take pictures at the beginning of each month during the growing season.  Repeated photographs both within and between seasons provide qualitative data on habitat change over time.