Clark’s Nutcracker Project
The Clark’s Nutcracker Project empowers students to collect environmental data in the mountain ranges of western Wyoming. By researching the this bird, we can better protect the whitebark pine, a critically important tree whose seeds are spread solely by the nutcracker.
The whitebark pine provides food and shelter to many high-elevation animals and plants. This tree also shades and anchors snowpack into the summer months, supplying water to farms and towns when they need it most.
Whitebark pine populations have declined by 50% over the last few decades due to an invasive fungus, white pine blister rust, and the mountain pine beetle, a native species that has climbed higher in elevation with a warming climate.
In order to successfully restore the whitebark pine, we need to concentrate our efforts in areas that otherwise provide suitable Clark’s Nutcracker habitat. This way, the nutcracker can continue to do its job—spreading the seeds of whitebark further across the mountains. Your data can help us figure out what exactly we are looking for when we go to re-plant trees.
Thanks for participating!
Clark’s Nutcracker Citizen Science Project Coordinator
Project Illustration by Anya Tyson
Clark’s Nutcracker Citizen Science Project 2016/2017
In its first season in 2016, the Clark’s Nutcracker Citizen Science Project produced scientific data and meaningful learning opportunities. Over two hundred students from the NOLS and Teton Science Schools (TSS) participated in surveys spanning the length of the Wind River Mountains. They conducted 56 surveys for nutcrackers, went on 29 expeditions to collect data and spent 48 hours listening for birds in the mountains.
In the summer of 2017, two dedicated adult volunteers and four educational organizations (NOLS, Teton Science Schools, the Community School, and Wyoming Catholic College) reinforced their commitment to wild landscapes by documenting whitebark pine health and the presence of Clark’s nutcrackers on wilderness expeditions. In total, they completed 114 surveys across four remote mountain ranges — the Wind Rivers, Absarokas, and Tetons in Wyoming— and the Beartooths in Montana.