Scientific Research

The John Muir Project engages in and supports original scientific research performed by independent scientists, including JMP’s own Chad Hanson, Ph.D., in order to find the truth which underlies the many untested assumptions that govern the management of our National Forests today.

Ongoing Research

Scientific Publications

Authored by John Muir Project Director Chad Hanson, Ph.D

  • Appendices for Hanson C.T. and D.C. Odion 2016 (In Press). Natural Areas Journal. Appendix A (1911 forest survey excerpts) and Appendix B (1911-1916 correspondence excerpts).
  • Hanson, C.T. 2015. Use of higher-severity fire areas by female Pacific fishers on the Kern Plateau, Sierra Nevada, California, USA. The Wildlife Society Bulletin (in press).  Contact us for study.
  • Hanson, C.T. 2014. Conservation concerns for Sierra Nevada birds associated with highseverity fire. Western Birds 45: 204-212. Download PDF
  • Odion, D.C., C.T. Hanson, C.T., D.A. DellaSala, W.L. Baker, and M.L. Bond. 2014. Effects of fire and commercial thinning on future habitat of the Northern Spotted Owl. The Open Ecology Journal 7: 37-51. Download PDF
  • DellaSala, D.A., M.L. Bond, C.T. Hanson, R.L. Hutto, and D.C. Odion. 2014. Complex early seral forests of the Sierra Nevada: what are they and how can they be managed for ecological integrity? Natural Areas Journal 34: 310-324. Contact us for study.
  • Odion, D.C., C.T. Hanson, A. Arsenault, W.L. Baker, D.A. DellaSala, R.L. Hutto, W. Klenner, M.A. Moritz, R.L. Sherriff, T.T. Veblen, and M.A. Williams. 2014. Examining historical and current mixed-severity fire regimes in ponderosa pine and mixed-conifer forests of western North America. PLoS ONE 9: e87852. Download PDF
  • Hanson, C.T., and D.C. Odion. 2014. Is fire severity increasing in the Sierra Nevada mountains, California, USA? International Journal of Wildland Fire 23: 1-8. Contact us for study.
  • DellaSala, D.A., R.G. Anthony, M.L. Bond, E.S. Fernandez, C.A. Frissell, and C.T. Hanson. 2013. Alternate views of a restoration framework for federal forests in the Pacific Northwest. Journal of Forestry 111: 420-429. Contact us for study.
  • Hanson, C.T. 2013. Pacific fisher habitat use of a heterogeneous post-fire and unburned landscape in the southern Sierra Nevada, California, USA. The Open Forest Science Journal 6:24-30. Learn More
  • Odion, D.C., and Hanson, C.T. 2013. Projecting impacts of fire management on a biodiversity indicator in the Sierra Nevada and Cascades, USA: the Black-backed Woodpecker. The Open Forest Science Journal 6: 14-23. Download PDF
  • Hanson, C.T., D.A. DellaSala, and M.L. Bond. 2013. The overlooked benefits of wildfire. BioScience 63: 243. Contact us for study.
  • DellaSala D., M. Bond, W. Baker, D. Odion, and C. Hanson. 2010. A reply to North et al. Wildlife Professional, Summer 2010. Download PDF
  • Hanson, C.T., D.C. Odion, D.A. DellaSala, and W.L. Baker. 2010. More-comprehensive recovery actions for Northern Spotted Owls in dry forests: Reply to Spies et al. Conservation Biology 24: 334-337. Download PDF
  • Hanson, C.T., and M.P. North. 2009. Post-fire survival and flushing in three Sierra Nevada conifers with high initial crown scorch. International Journal of Wildland Fire 18: 857-864. Learn More
  • Bond, M.L., D.E. Lee, C.M. Bradley, and C.T. Hanson. 2009. Influence of pre-fire mortality from insects and drought on burn severity in conifer forests of the San Bernardino Mountains, California. The Open Forest Science Journal 2: 41-47. Download PDF
  • Hanson, C.T., D.C. Odion, D.A. DellaSala, and W.L. Baker. 2009. Overestimation of fire risk in the Northern Spotted Owl Recovery Plan. Conservation Biology 23: 1314-1319. Download PDF
  • Hanson, C.T., and M.P. North. 2008. Postfire woodpecker foraging in salvage-logged and unlogged forests of the Sierra Nevada. The Condor 110: 777-782. Download PDF
  • Odion, D.C., and C.T. Hanson. 2008. Fire severity in the Sierra Nevada revisited: conclusions robust to further analysis. Ecosystems 11: 12-15. Contact us for study.
  • Hanson, C.T. 2007. Post-fire management of snag forest habitat in the Sierra Nevada. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California at Davis. Davis, CA. Download PDF
  • Hanson, C.T., and M.P. North. 2006. Post-fire epicormic branching in Sierra Nevada Abies concolor (white fir). International Journal of Wildland Fire 15: 31-35. Download PDF
  • Odion, D.C., and C.T. Hanson. 2006. Fire severity in conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada, California. Ecosystems 9: 1177-1189. Download PDF
  • Hanson, C.T., Odion, D.C. 2006. Fire Severity in mechanically thinned versus unthinned forests of the Sierra Nevada, California. In: Proceedings of the 3rd International Fire Ecology and Management Congress, November 13-17, 2006, San Diego, CA. Contact us for study.

Other Scientific Publications

on Forest Ecology, Wildlife and Fire

Recent Studies on the Benefits of Mixed-Intensity Fire for Wildlife Species

  • Roberts L.J., A.M. Fogg, R.D. Burnett 2015. Sierra Nevada National Forests Avian Management Indicator Species.  Point Blue Conservation Science 2014 Annual Report.  Contact us for Report.
  • Rota C.T. 2013. Not all Forests are disturbed equally: population dynamics and resource selection of Black-backed Woodpeckers in the Black Hills, South Dakota.  Ph.D. dissertation, University of Missouri-Columbia. Download PDF.
  • Rota C.T.,  J.J. Millspaugh, M.A. Rumble, C.P. Lehman, D.C. Kesler 2014. The role of wildfire, prescribed fire, and Mountain Pine Beetle infestations on the population dynamics of Black-backed Woodpeckers in the Black Hills, South Dakota.  PLoS ONE 9: e94700. Contact us for study. 
  • Rota C.T., M.A. Rumble, J.J. Millspaugh, C.P. Lehman, D.C. Kesler 2014. Space-use and habitat associations of Black-backed Woodpeckers (Picoides articus) occupying recently disturbed forests in the Black Hills, South Dakota.  Forest Ecology and Management 313: 161-168.  Contact us for study. 

Some of the Recent Studies that Have Found Historical Mixed-Conifer and Ponderosa Pine Forests
to Have Been Dominated by Mixed-Intensity Fire (Not Low-Intensity Fire)

  • Baker, W.L. 2014. Historical forest structure and fire in Sierran mixed-conifer forests reconstructed from General Land Office survey data. Ecosphere 5: Article 79. Contact us for study.
  • Baker, W.L. 2012. Implications of spatially extensive historical data from surveys for restoring dry forests of Oregon’s eastern Cascades. Ecosphere 3: article 23. Contact us for study.
  • Williams, M.A., W.L. Baker. 2012a. Spatially extensive reconstructions show variable-severity fire and heterogeneous structure in historical western United States dry forests. Global Ecology and Biogeography 21: 1042-1052. Contact us for study.
  • Williams, M.A., W.L. Baker. 2012b. Comparison of the higher-severity fire regime in historical (A.D. 1800s) and modern (A.D. 1984-2009) montane forests across 624,156 ha of the Colorado Front Range. Ecosystems 15: 832-847. Contact us for study.



Finding that Mixed-Intensity Fire Benefits Spotted Owls

  • Lee, D.E., and M.L. Bond.  2015. Occupancy of California spotted owl sites following a large fire in the Sierra Nevada, California.  The Condor 117 (in press). Contact us for study.
  • Ganey, J.L., S.C. Kyle, T.A. Rawlinson, D.L. Apprill, and J.P. Ward, Jr.  2014. Relative abundance of small mammals in nest core areas and burned wintering areas of Mexican spotted owls in the Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 126: 47-52. Contact us for study.
  • Bond, M. L., D. E. Lee, R. B. Siegel, & J. P. Ward, Jr. 2009. Habitat use and selection by California Spotted Owls in a postfire landscape. Journal of Wildlife Management 73: 1116-1124. Learn More
  • Franklin, A.B., D.R. Anderson, R.J. Gutiérrez, and K.P. Burnham. 2000. Climate, habitat quality, and fitness in northern spotted owl populations in northwestern California. Ecological Monographs 70: 539-590 [See Figure 10]. Download PDF
  • Lee, D.E., M.L. Bond, and R.B. Siegel. 2012. Dynamics of breeding-season site occupancy of the California spotted owl in burned forests. The Condor 114: 792-802. Learn More

New Study

Finds that Logging (a.k.a “thinning”) Adversely Affects California Spotted Owls

  • Stephens, S.L., S.W. Bigelow, R.D. Burnett, B.M. Collins, C.V. Gallagher, J. Keane, D.A. Kelt, M.P. North, L.J. Roberts, P.A. Stine, and D.H. Van Vuren. 2014. California Spotted Owl, songbird, and small mammal responses to landscape fuel treatments. BioScience (in press). Contact us for study.

One is constantly reminded of the infinite lavishness and fertility of Nature — inexhaustible abundance amid what seems enormous waste. And yet when we look into any of her operations that lie within reach of our minds, we learn that no particle of her material is wasted or worn out. It is eternally flowing from use to use, beauty to yet higher beauty; and we soon cease to lament waste and death, and rather rejoice and exult in the imperishable, unspendable wealth of the universe, and faithfully watch and wait the reappearance of everything that melts and fades and dies about us, feeling sure that its next appearance will be better and more beautiful than the last.

John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra (1911) Chapter 10.