Graduation Date

Spring 2023

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Wildlife

Committee Chair Name

Ho Yi Wan

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Frank Fogarty

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Erin Kelly

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff


Disturbance ecology, Ecological niche model, Ensemble learning, Fire ecology, Multi-scale, Species distribution model

Subject Categories



Large and severe wildfires, exacerbated by climate change and human behavior, are occurring more frequently in many forests across the western United States. While wildfire is a natural part of most terrestrial ecosystems, rapidly changing fire regimes have the potential to alter habitat beyond the adaptive capabilities of species. Spatial assessments of wildfire risks to species habitat may allow managers to pinpoint locations for management activities. To illustrate this, I spatially assessed wildfire risk within habitat that supports the nesting activity of the federally threatened northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina) in the California redwood coast ecoregion. To accomplish this, I built a scale-optimized ensemble nesting habitat suitability model and identified habitat with the highest wildfire hazard potential. Percent canopy cover at 100-m scale, slope at 400-m scale, and January precipitation at 800-m scale were the most influential environmental covariates for predicting northern spotted owl nesting habitat. Nearly 60% of nesting habitat was predicted to be at high or very high (>1,986 index value) wildfire risks. I identified three areas in the Maple Creek area of Humboldt County, Jackson State Demonstration Forest in Mendocino County, and Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, California with a high concentration of nesting habitat that are at a very high risk of experiencing high severity wildfires. I recommend these areas be targeted for management attention and future research to understand the impact of wildfire on northern spotted owl.

Citation Style

Journal of Wildlife Management


Thesis/Project Location


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