Clark’s Nutcracker Project

Nature Mapping Jackson Hole is supporting the Clark’s Nutcracker collaborative citizen-science project led by University of Vermont graduate student Anya Tyson.

Tyson is engaging students and instructors on Teton Science School and National Outdoor Leadership School backcountry trips to gather data on this easily identified bird with an outsized conservation impact in imperiled whitebark pine ecosystems. Nature Mappers also have the opportunity to conduct short surveys for the Clark’s Nutcracker, adding to the data contributed by students. Conservation biologist Dr. Taza Schaming will use this data to see which habitat features best predict Clark’s nutcrackers in mountain landscapes. Her recommendations to land managers can help guide whitebark pine conservation and restoration efforts.

Increasingly severe mountain pine beetle outbreaks and an introduced fungus—white pine blister rust—have caused whitebark populations to decline across much of the northern Rockies. As forest managers attempt to restore these ecosystems, they need to understand the ecology of the whitebark’s evolutionary ally, the Clark’s Nutcracker. As the primary seed disperser of the whitebark pine, this conspicuous bird plays a critical role in maintaining healthy whitebark stands across the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. In order to protect the key landscape features that allow nutcrackers to persist in damaged whitebark habitat and plant the seeds of a new generation, we need data on how nutcrackers are using changing high-elevation forests.

How can Nature Mappers contribute to the project?

We need the help of certified Nature Mappers with either previous knowledge or HIGH interest/aptitude to master the following:

  • High-elevation tree identification
  • Clark’s Nutcracker identification by sight AND by sound.

Additionally, an interested Nature Mapper should be:

  • Comfortable and frequent visitor to the backcountry
  • Willing to train a few friends/family members in the project (unlike traditional Nature Mapping, data should be collected in a small group)
  • Have access to the following equipment: compass, camera, GPS/GPS phone app capable of recording UTMs

Tyson will provide each participant with a 1-hour training and access to a GoogleDrive with all survey materials, background resources, and audio files of birdsong. Volunteers would need to fill out hard copies of the two project data sheets, and then drop off completed data sheets at Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation (or mail them to Anya directly) in addition to uploading habitat photos to a shared GoogleDrive space.

If you’re interested in contributing your citizen science skills to this project, please email Kate Gersh, JHWF Associate Director, at Kate@jhwildlife.org or call (307) 739-0968.  Due to the seasonal nature of this study, please indicate your interest asap.

Project Leader Anya Tyson

Explore the Map Below to View Clark’s Nutcracker Observations Recorded by Students on the Project

Photo Credits:

Henry Holdsworth
Mark Gocke
Steve Morriss
Sava Malachowski
Leine Stikkel
Tim Griffith
Jon Mobeck

Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation

330 N. Glenwood Street
Jackson, WY 83002
(307) 739-0968
All rights reserved.

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