Rural System's

The Virginia National Forest's Inquire

Inquire is a proposed and planned new organization within the George Washington National Forest. Inquire-1 is within the GW and Inquire- 2 is within the Jefferson National Forest, Grayson County. Both are designed to complement and further the objectives of the Southern and other Research Stations of the US Forest Service, to augment work of State and Private Forestry, and to build the knowledge base and decision support base for daily decision-making on the Virginia Forests. It presents a new approach to managing scientific and technological knowledge, new science leadership, and unifying socially relevant research with the entrepreneurial spirit of people in rural regions.

Part of the effort of these "labs", very unorthodox, is to:

These are centers of inquiry. They are

Of course they may be sub-stations of the existing Research Stations and research staff may carry on studies with local staff and work out of the facilities. They, however, are out of the main line of "research" and thus those on-going debates.

The proposed work has the characteristics, not exclusive, but strongly social and cultural capacity building (Shahidullah 1991) , of:

Almost self-evident, Inquire units are designed science systems, entities that produce, organize, and utilize scientific knowledge ... for profit and for the spirit of meaningful fun, creativity, and social advance. They are systems that produce both in quantity and quality with high accountability over stated time periods. There is a spirit, a working hypothesis, that a new changing science system for rural areas can feed hope and reduce despair.

Inquiry-1 (potentially a Clifton Forge center) houses emphases on the Rich Hole Wild area, watershed studies, new user memberships, Chesapeake Bay relations, plant species, and songbird ecological relations. It has emphases in large bird studies (hawks, owls, vultures) and explores the linkages of water, especially of seeps, ponds, and forest wetlands to terrestrial wild fauna (half of the animals of the Forest which have water requirements in their life cycles). It has a major forest health component including implementing forest fire research findings for the Forest and its region, mapping invasive species, presenting studies of gypsy moth population changes for the Forest, and vertebrate damage.

Inquiry-2 (potentially a Grayson County center) houses special emphases of grasslands and mid-Eastern rangeland management, scenic analyses, horse and bike trail development and use, high elevation emphases including air pollution, and ecological and socio-economic-political baseline studies in the newly-established wilderness areas (news reports, 2005) . It has emphases in large animal studies (bear, bobcat, and coyote). Both Inquiry areas have demonstration areas that are tourist attractions (see "ranging" herein) and have SOL components.

The Bobcat Group

Similar to the Black Bear Group The Bobcat Group is designed to work with the Wilderness Group and others and to strive to develop a dynamic, modern managerial studies or inquiry program that includes tours.

The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a valuable part of the wildlife resource of the state and region. It is widespread in the nation. In addition to being a fur resource, it has been listed as endangered in some areas, a predator in others. It is high in wildland food chains and thus has potentials as a biological monitor. It is a significant predator and can serve as a fundamental link to improved understandings of basic predator-prey relations. Seeing one may be a lifetime recreational high point. It requires advanced ecological communities and, because of this, it is an indicator organism, a key to assessing the development of land. It is thus one measure of reclamation success and for some "land health" or "land integrity. "

The main objective of the Group within Inquire is to study and utilize the bobcat as a vital natural resource. This is a proposed long-term investigation of bobcats of the region - their ecology, economics, esthetics, and energetics. It includes education, analyses of the animal as a pest and predator, and the development of predator-prey theory and related software. It includes art sales, photography, publications, tours, and extended relations with people interested in the wild cats of the world. A membership for people interested in the cat, the cat family, and international feline resources is conceived. The bobcat thus becomes the center of a new regional enterprise, then expands. Population increases involve managing cottontail and rodent habitat, denning sites probably learned through radio-tracking and cameras, and maintaining large contiguous tracts of forest and fields with den juxtaposition. Some areas may not be able to sustain cat populations over the long run. Inquire may add a component or attempt to relate to ongoing studies on the eastern cougar (Canis concolor) , reported to be present and having increasing sightings, probably in relation to urbanization, dog control, and high deer populations. Reported attacks of hikers make this increase notable as efforts are made with the Wildland Walkers.

The following is an example of the Inquire study needed for the bobcat, one centered on the Forest, crossing state and federal area, topic, and resource policy issues, supported by public and private funds, and also being entrepreneurial. Inquire, while seeming to bea research activity is concerned equally in "outreach," in enhancing the value of the resources of the Forest, in using results from past publically-funded projects, in monitoring and then modeling population changes and access of users to the resource so that it is not depleted.

The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a valuable part of the wild faunal resource of the state and region. It is widespread in the nation. In addition to being a fur resource, it has been listed as endangered in some areas, a predator in others. It is high in wildland food chains and thus has potentials as a biological monitor. It is a significant predator and can serve as a fundamental link to improved understandings of basic predator-prey relations. It requires advanced ecological communities and because of this it is an indicator organism, a key to assessing the development of land. It is thus one measure of mined-land and intensively-logged or polluted-land reclamation success.

Because of critically short supplies of nitrogen and calcium on the average abandoned coal surface mine (e.g., in southwestern Virginia), these creatures are hypothesized to have a distinctive, perhaps critical role in invasion phenomena - the successful start of a plant community from an abundant seed rain in a very harsh environment. We thus hypothesize that the cat plays an unsuspected and highly valuable role in land reclamation. It creates sufficiently large and long-lasting sites high in nitrogen and calcium through excretion and these sites, as small but critically important plant "startup" sites, are fundamental to whether a mine is revegetated and at what rate this occurs.

The bobcat has been studied widely as can be seen by the lengthy bibliography available (419 in 1982) . It has never been studied over many years with sufficient resources devoted to understand the creature or its management. Nowhere are there more than a few years of studies by one person or of one population. With all of the information, nowhere is it synthesized, nowhere can conclusive work be found.

For over 15 years R. H. Giles and his staff and graduate students have experimented with computer simulations (see references below). We now believe that a significant computer model of bobcat populations can be created. Models are not new, but we propose to create such a model for the primary purpose of directing research. Many people have recognized this need and have touted this as one of the primary benefits of computer simulations. Few people have used these models for such purposes. Herein we propose to develop study facilities while synthesizing and creating a comprehensive computer model of bobcat populations. This modeling will continue for many years but the first real model will be the cornerstone of and the mechanism for research design for cost-effective results for at least 50 years.

We see the model as the key to rational, cost-effective, objectives-oriented long-range research. We see the bobcat as the key element for comprehending the wildlands of southwestern Virginia. We see the 5-E's-- the ecology, economics, esthetics, energetics of, and enforcement of laws related to the species--as the structure upon which this research effort will be built.

This program will be as objective as we can make it, following the careful scientific protocol for studies of these secretive animals of relative low density. Alternative modes study will be explored as well. Innovations are expected in knowledge of:
1. predator-prey relations
2. the role of consumers in ecosystem rebuilding
3. mineral cycling and the role of carnivores on transformed mine land
4. physiology of felids
5. food habits and energy requirements
6. population estimation
7. Landsat analyses of predator range
8. population dynamics
9. inter-specific competition
10. bridges between physiological, behavioral, and habitat models
11. maximization of population densities of a carnivore
12. potential yields and benefits
13. disease and parasite vector relations
14. rabies relationships
15. automated radio-tracking and camera systems
16. terrestrial pulmonates (land snails as disease vectors) and population characteristics
17. climatic relations, and
18. effects of forestry on the felids.


1. Facilities

We need a small lab and office center of activities for computer analyses, computer terminal, files, maps, data processing, libraries, specimen collections, and related activities. The costs of equipping it and annual rental is estimated at $5,000.

We need a Field Research Area. A local land owner may donate or rent under longterm lease land for the project.

Two other areas may be used by the Center. One is the Shenandoah National Park (Virginia) where research has been requested by the U.S. National Park Service.

Several field camps are needed for extended field research work throughout the year. The estimated costs of these is $40,000.

Development of the area to expedite research (signs, trails, emergency equipment, and markers) is estimated at $15,000.

Field vehicles are needed including two 4-wheel drive vehicles, two trail-bikes, and one toboggan. Estimated costs are $30,000.

Preliminary project equipment needs are for standard lab supplies, microscope, radio-telemetry, herbarium, live traps, tranquilizer equipment, handling equipment, camera, telescope, field gear, etc. The estimated cost is $11,000.

2. Staff

One full-time staff person, a research associate, and one full-time research assistant are needed. Part time workers will be employed as needed. These two staff members will be directed by the project leader and be responsible for working with cooperators. They will be responsible for maintaining the center and a continual flow of research results and information from the center. A distinguished publication series -- of theses and dissertations, technical papers, and popular materials -- is expected to flow from this highly interactive group. One part-time secretary and programming assistant are needed.

3. The Studies

It is impossible to see the future research needs for bobcats clearly enough to provide great detail.

First, a computer model, a simulation will be created. The model will create a means by which all age classes, sexes, health states, and reproductive states can be changed and effects of such change observed over time. The effort will be to find out what factors in the complex life equation are most significant, make the most difference, and about which the greatest overall understanding will be gained (because of linkages, interactions, and thresholds.) Then we can see which among these cost the most and which can be addressed by careful experimentation and observation. Based on these criteria and a computer-aided research selection technique (Giles et al. 1981) projects will be selected for funding from available resources (an initial request of $50,000 is made). An endowment of $150,000 would provide an annual yield of about $10,000 to support the base work of at least one graduate student per year.

The research topics which as initially seen, are likely to arise from the modeling effort are:
1. Population estimation techniques
2. Home range and behavior over area
3. Movements and terrain relations
4. Habitat requirements
5. Food requirements
6. Energy expenditures
7. Climate (temperature, wind, precipitation) relations
8. Density and social organization
9. Population response to food saturation
10. Habitat manipulation techniques
11. Effects of silviculture on populations
12. Responses to rodent management
13. Responses to rabbit management
14. Responses to snake management
15. Responses to insect management
16. Aquatic foods and pond management
17. Growth rates
18. Growth and reproduction
19. The reproductive cycle
20. Adreno-pituitary relations
21. Parasite loads and habitat relations
22. Parasite intermediate hosts
23. Area surveys and harvest statistics
24. Landsat images and habitat correlations
25. Reproductive success
26. Survival rates
27. Energy and corporea lutea
28. Heavy metal body loads
29. Flushing behavior and human observers
30. Activity patterns and rhythms
31. Life zones and habitat-suitability classes
32. Inter-area differences
33. Color phases and age, genetics, habitat, and seasonal phenomena and their energetic relations
34. Rabies antibodies: presence and meaning
35. History: folklore and the person-bobcat encounter
36. Education: changing specific human behaviors relative to the bobcat
37. The bounty: its meaning and relevance
38. Damage: its meaning relative to the bobcat and economic theory
39. Value theory and the worth of a bobcat
40. Age and aging phenomena
41. Age-specific reproductive rates
42. Scent-posts: analysis of the effectiveness of the technique for bobcat population trend estimation
43. Bobcat and livestock relations
44. Bobcat and game-fur animal relations
45. Bobcat responses to roads and trails
46. Perfect bobcat habitat
47. Statewide population status: methods and answers
48. Population dynamics models
49. Bobcat relations to diversity measures
50. Bobcat as ecosystem monitor
51. Bobcat as indicator of ecosystem status
52. Broken-stick ecological models and the bobcat
53. Mineral cycle models and the role of the bobcat
54. Pheromones and related behaviors
55. Optimal baits and baiting systems over time
56. Fur quality
57. Sulfur content of hair as an indicator of habitat quality
58. Educational media effectiveness: museums, live animals, displays, TV cassettes, tours, publications, newspapers, etc.
59. The dynamics of forming a bobcat research club: organization theory and group dynamics
60. Vocalizations: their recording, analysis, and meaning
61. Artificial dens or lairs
62. Relations of domestic or semi-domestic dogs and bobcats
63. Migration phenomena 64. Appropriate mathematical distributions

Support Someday there will be started a bobcat research program in Virginia. It will be better if it is within a fully developed, broad center of felid-related activities - one activity being research. It will be done at least as a small project. The reason we have not done it in the past has been that we have not seen the need so clearly nor have we seen the potentials for it returning such widespread social good as we now see. We have not had the techniques in some cases, and we have not had the resources. Some of the answers will only be gotten at high cost after many years. The funding sources, in addition to those designed for the profit-oriented enterprise may be:
University in-kind support
Mining companies may supply land.
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (e.g., nongame funds)
Defenders of Wildlife
Alumni and Benefactors of VPI and SU
National Forest Foundation
Legislative appropriations
Office of Surface Mining
Virginia Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit
Department of Defense (management aids on military lands, GIS, GPS, monitoring wilderness use))
Disease-related group interests
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Coal industry
U.S. National Park Service
National Wildlife Federation Feline Research Center
Memberships in an Inquire organization

We propose to seek support from the above and especially to seek an endowment sufficiently large to stabilize the research center. Its greatest payoffs are likely to be experienced from long-term investigations.

We shall seek through various fund-raising activities (e.g., tours of the research area; publications and other activities of the conglomerate) to secure stabilizing support. One secondary intent will be to help people relate positively and actively to the animal and thereby to the land, to ecosystems, and to the continued benefits from wildland research to support management.

Penn VirginiaResources Corporation, Duffield, Virginia, has contributed previously to research on a bibliography. A detailed budget will be supplied on request.

Literature Cited

Brotzman, R. L. and R. H. Giles. 1966. Electronic data processng of capture - recapture and related ecological data. J. Wildl. Manage. 30(2): 286-292.

Gavitt, J. D. and R. H. Giles, Jr. 1973. Simulation studies of quail hunting success associated with pine stands. Proc. National Bob-White Quail Symposium.

Giles, R. H., Jr. 1972. Future uses of computers in environmental management p. 3-21 in R. N. Stone and K. D. Ware (Ed.s). Proc. of a Workshop on computers and Information System in Resource Management Decisions. U.S. Forest Service, Cooperatve State Research Service, Washington, D.C. 130 pp.

Giles, R. H. Jr. 1977. Simulating the environmental impacts of a high voltage transmission line. Winter Simulation Conference Proc. Vol. 1, 319-321.

Giles, R. H., Jr. 1978. A computer-based methodology for reducing wildlife impacts from high voltage powerline location. Proc. Western Assn. State Game and Fish Commission 57:104-110.

Giles, R. H., Jr. 1978. Wildlife management. W. H. Freeman, San Francisco. 419 pp.

Giles, R. H., Jr. and A. B. Jones, III. 1974. Hunt I and II computer-based deer management units for university and in-service education. Proc. S.E. Assn. Game and Fish Commissioners, 29:706-711.

Giles, R. H., Jr. and N. Snyder. 1970. Simulation techniques in wildlife habitat management. Paper presented, 23rd Annual Meeting, Amer. Soc. of Range Management. Feb. 11, 1970. Reprinted p. 637-654 in Readings in Wildlife Conservation, The Wildlife Society, Washington, D.C.

Giles, R. H., Jr., C. D. Buffington, and J. A. Davis. 1969. A topographic model of population stability. J. Wildl. Mgmt. 33(4): 1042-1045.

Giles, R. H., Jr., A. B. Jones, III, A. R. Tipton, and T. L. Shank. 1976. Predicting impacts of proposed facilities in parks. First Conf. on Scientific Research in Natl. Parks 1:1061-1066.

Giles, R. H., Jr., M. C. Deaver, and T. W. Cason, Jr. 1981. A computer-based system for research project selection employing weighted objectives. Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, VPI & SU, Blacksburg, VA. 9 pp.

Hoar, A. R. and R. H. Giles, Jr. 1979. A system for remapping the ranges of threatened and endangered wildlife species. Southeastern Regional Meeting, Society for General Systems Research. 8 pp.

Hoecker, S. W. 1976. NATAL: a computer-based educational unit on white-tailed deer bioenergetics. Unpub. M.S. Thesis. VPI & SU. Blacksburg1 VA. vi + 163 pp.

Leenhouts, W. P. 1976. Forecasting policy and human population effects on the Michigan deer resource. Unpub. M.S. Thesis, VPI & SU, Blacksburg1 VA. ix + 153 pp.

Mechler, J. L. III. 1970. Factors influencing the white-tailed deer harvest in Virginia, 1947-1967. Unpub. M.S. Thesis, VPI & SU, Blacksburg, VA. viii + 106 pp.

Rayburn, E. B. and R. H. Giles, Jr. 1975. Energy balance as a criterion for acquiring deer management areas. Proc. S.E. Assoc. of Game and Fish Commissioners 29:481-492.

Smart, C. W. 1970. A computer model of wildlife rabies epizootics and an analysis of incidence patterns. Unpub. M.S. Thesis, VPI & SU, Blacksburg, VA. ix + 126 pp.

Smart, C. W. and R. H. Giles, Jr. 1973. A computer model of wildlyfe rabies epizootics and an analysis of incidence patterns. Wildlife Disease 61, 89 pp. (WD-73-1).

Walls, M. L. 1974. A dynamic white-tailed deer population simulator and lessons from its use. Unpub. M.S. Thesis, VPI & SU, Blacksburg, VA. viii + 167 pp. Robert H. Giles, Jr. 504 Rose Avenue, Blacksburg, VA 24060 December 15, 2000


May 13, 2012