Applied research can help land managers find immediate practical solutions to many of their concerns, but what about issues related to climate change or large-scale population shifts? Long-term monitoring is typically the only way to detect large-scale ecological patterns and processes. Unfortunately, the nature of research funding promotes quick studies on a much shorter timescale, and long-term monitoring is not something that most researchers can dedicate themselves to. By making a commitment to sustained, long-term monitoring, making it part of our core research programming, TINS is in a unique position to develop datasets with tremendous future value. Programs such as our Fall Banding and Swainson's Thrush projects will provide invaluable insight into major ecological issues facing Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada.
Even if the financial resources for sustained monitoring are lacking, we can plan ahead by collecting baseline inventories, in an easily repeatable, systematic way. These data then become available for comparison in later years. With this approach in mind, Will Richardson has completed comprehensive faunal assessments of both the birds and butterflies of the Carson Range in recent years. In the winter of 2010-2011, TINS initiated a project documenting the current distribution and status of montane rabbits in the Tahoe region, with an emphasis on the White-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus townsendii) and Snowshoe Hare (L. americanus).