Multi-species Baseline Initiative

Why a Multi-Species Baseline Initiative?

The world is changing fast and natural resource managers are facing a new age. Gone are the days when the wildlife manager's only job was tracking harvest rates and setting next years big game season. Today's wildlife manger is faced with issues our predecessors may never have imagined. Urban development, changes in the power grid, and climate change are just some of the issues that make a natural resource managers head spin.

Will a new subdivision leave enough room for songbirds to nest? How will a new wind turbine affect bat migration? What's a sustainable way we can maintain tree harvest while leaving a buffer zone for snails to adapt to climate change? Should fishers be listed as an endangered species or should we open a trapping season?


These are the types of questions that come across our desks at IDFG every day. Sometimes we know the answer, but all too often we just don't have the data we need to make an informed decision. It's not unusual for us to only have a vague idea about the status of the population in question and, in some cases, it's been decades since the species in question has even been documented to occur in Idaho.

How can we be expected to make the best decisions for species conservation and land management if we don't even know if the species is present on the landscape?

With the exception of game and some endangered species, there's not a lot of money available for inventory and monitoring of species. Correctly identifying specimens and cataloguing species occurrence data is highly specialized work. Protocols to conduct field surveys for different species tend to occur at different times of the year and are highly specialized as well.

The challenges to getting the data we need to make informed natural resource management decisions are intimidating, but not insurmountable. It would be easy to throw up our hands and say, 'it's too hard and it can't be done'.

EASY isn't what MBI is after. Instead of seeing obstacles, MBI seizes opportunity.


MBI is a forward looking group of partners that is dedicated to providing a comprehensive data set of occurrence data for a variety of wildlife species in the Idaho Panhandle and adjoining mountain ranges. We inventory a variety of taxa groups including amphibians, beetles, forest carnivores, slugs, and snails. Our main focus is inventory of 20 Species of Greatest Conservation Need listed in State Wildlife Action Plans (SWAP): 

MBI is implementing State Wildlife Action Plan recommended conservation actions for 20 Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Wood Frog Rana sylvatica
CDA Salamander Plethodon idahoensis
Northern Leopard Frog Rana pipiens
Tiger Salamander Ambystoma tigrinum
Western Toad Anaxyrus boreas
GASTROPODS (slugs & snails)
An Oregonian Cryptomastix mullani blandi
Fir Pinwheel Radiodiscus abietum
Humped Coin Polygyrella polygyrella
Kingston Oregonian Cryptomastix sanburni
Lyre Mantleslug Udosarx lyrata
Magnum Mantleslug Magnipelta mycophaga
Pale Jumping Slug Hemphillia camelus
Sheathed Slug Zacoleus idahoensis
Thinlip Tightcoil Pristiloma idahoense
Blue-grey Taildropper Prophysaon coeruleum
Smoky Taildropper Prophysaon coeruleum
Fisher Martes pennanti
Lynx Lynx canadensis
Wolverine Gulo gulo


Because both Idaho and Washington have committed to including climate change in the next SWAP revision we are taking the innovative approach of co-locating climate monitoring stations with SGCN survey plots. This micro-climate data will provide a baseline of climatic regimes necessary for management of different suites of species.

North Idaho and northeastern Washington are working landscapes. They are not national parks or wilderness areas. They are places where people live, work, and play. Our goal is to provide standardized information for a suite of species so that we can continue to hike, hunt, log, plant, ride, ski, watch wildlife, and just enjoy the land we love. Our goal is to develop a data set that will help us use our land without abusing our land.

MBI’s strong partnerships and contributors have enabled a massive survey effort from 2010-11.  In each yellow and purple 5x5 km cell MBI co-located a climate monitoring station with a summer survey for beetles, gastropods, and forest carnivores. In each purple cell, MBI has established a winter forest carnivore monitoring bait station.



Partner Organizations Funding Organizations
British Columbia Ministry of the Environment Colville National Forest
Bureau of Land Management Idaho Panhandle National Forest
Coeur d'Alene Tribe   Laughing Dog Brewery
Colville National Forest Oregon Zoo Future for Wildlife Grants Program
Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness US Fish and Wildlife Service
Idaho Conservation League USFS Rocky Moutain Research Station
Idaho Department of Fish and Game Zoo Boise Conservation Fund
Idaho Panhandle National Forest  
Kalispel Tribe  
Selkirk Outdoor Leadership and Education  
Seepanee Ecological Consulting  
University of Idaho (amphibians & beetles)  
USFS Air Temperature Project  
USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station  
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife  
Vital Ground  



What's New

Leaf Litter Sort Training Day

Want to learn something new? Come to the MBI leaf litter sort training day to learn more about MBI, gastropods, leaf litter, and sorting it! 

Saturday, March 30th  9am to 12 noon at the Waterlife Discovery Center at the Sandpoint fish Hatchery in Sagle, ID. 

Check out the attached flyer for all of the details. See you there!

Logistics of Getting to a Remote Bait Station - Long Canyon Pass

Getting 364 bait stations up to meet the deliverables of our Competitive State Wildlife Grant is a pretty fun logistical challenge. Earlier this week Scott Rulander and I took on Cell 137 and were able to put a station up at a spot we'd been trying to figure out how to reach since last winter.

Our protocol requires we establish at least one forest carnivore 'bait station' in each of our higher elevation 5x5 km survey cells. These bait stations gather images and DNA from 3 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (fisher, lynx, wolverine) which are listed as 'lacking essential information' in Idaho and Washington's State Wildlife Action Plans. We don't want to put a bait station up just anywhere in the cell though - we want to pick a spot likely to be visited by one of these far ranging mammals. This means placing stations along snowmobile routes, in drainage bottoms, along ridgelines, or on low mountain passes.

Bait Station Training Video

Learn how to establish 'bait stations' to collect images and DNA from forest carnivores. MBI partners are using this technique to monitor rare and common forest carnivores across the Idaho Panhandle and adjoining mountain ranges. Both paid employees and volunteer 'citizen naturalists' establish and run these stations.

Mountain Goat Remote Camera Pictures and Video

While bushwhacking up a stream in the Selkirk Mountains last summer I came across a mineral lick that had quite a bit of mountain goat sign at it. Mountain goats, a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Idaho, are known to make serious side-trips from their normal routine to visit such areas typically rich in sodium and other important minerals.

Summer Trail Cameras Capture Images of Lynx and Other Species

During the summer of 2012 MBI crews deployed remote cameras along roads and trails in northern Idaho's Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges. Our goal was to obtain images of lynx. Idaho's State Wildlife Action Plan recommends several conservation actions for this species which include gathering basic information on where it occurs. We successfully obtained images of lynx at three separate camera sets. All of the lynx images were obtained in Idaho's Purcell Mountains within the geographic area the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated as critical habitat for lynx. We also got some great shots of other animal species!

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