"Pursue and maintain compatible research projects that will provide information on refuge resources and address refuge issues to assist management in making decisions based on the best available information and science" (Refuge CCP Goal for Research).
Besides formal science partnerships with the University of Montana et al, the Refuge teamed citizens with scientists to do science in the form of a BioBlitz on June 26, 2009. The 24 hour event recorded at least 176 species...running the gamut from land snails and macroinvertebrates to fish, mammals and birds. The goal of taking a “biological snapshot” of critters here was accomplished. Secondarily, as quoted from Biological Technician Deb Goslin, “We always want to do things that help people become more interested in nature.” Look for continued citizen-science and/or volunteer supported science on the Refuge in support of the following objective and strategies:
Identify and support research projects that substantially benefit the refuge and species conservation and management (for example, floodplain restoration, target species studies, and public use).
- Evaluate all current research projects to determine their value in addressing refuge management objectives and concerns. Focus wildlife research on assessments of species–habitat relationships.
- Identify, design, and conduct issue-driven research and work with universities to develop senior thesis projects, graduate projects, or other research proposals that will address identified issues or provide useful data for management actions and adaptive management. Continue to participate with other Service divisions and the State in researching wildlife diseases on the refuge.
- Evaluate impacts on both ground and surface water quality from off-refuge water sources including supply ditches, creeks, and other public inputs (for example, subdivisions, septic systems, and underground tile). Continue to participate in the Montana Bureau of Mines and Department of Environmental Quality research on ground water quality impacts.
- Work with partners, including universities, to research methylmercury contamination on the refuge and the potential correlation with the management of wetland impoundments and any impacts on the nesting osprey population and any other wildlife species.
- Work with partners to provide opportunities to research the best methods and net effects of restoring refuge habitats, particularly gallery and riverfront forest, and reconnecting waterways to the Bitterroot River.
- Complete a forest inventory (baseline) and upland inventory (baseline) before major restoration activities to better understand and monitor the response of those vegetative communities to restoration efforts and other management actions.
- Investigate the relationship of how water moves through the refuge by recording data such as the arrival of irrigation water, ground water movements, water level management, and the fluctuating water levels of the Bitterroot River. Through partnerships, investigate the impacts and monitor changes to refuge habitats and wildlife as a result of . Use these results to adapt refuge management programs to the changing environment.
- Seek out grant opportunities to fully or partially fund research projects.
- Use an adaptive management approach to incorporate ongoing research and monitoring results into management options and decisions.
- Evaluate the impacts of herbivory on the survival and recruitment of current and restored shrubland and forested areas.