Current Research

A bull elk sticks his head above the forest undergrowth.
Bull Elk


Crater Lake with Wizard Island in winter

Crater Lake Ecological Investigations
Due to its near pristine condition, Crater Lake is recognized internationally as a premier outdoor laboratory. Research on the lake has resulted in long and continuous data sets and has attracted many new research interests. Future research will be focused on the lake's moss community, the feasibility of controlling non-native crayfish and potential indicators of global change. Learn more....

Bull trout in stream
Bull Trout Restoration and Research
Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), a listed threatened species, are the only native fish known to inhabit Crater Lake National Park. We have installed fish migration barriers in the park, removed all brook trout, an exotic competitor, and stabilized the population of bull trout. Research continues to annually monitor the populations and to investigate how bull trout disperse and utilize available habitat. Learn more....
Ranger releasing newts

Crater Lake Newt Studies
The Mazama newt is a subspecies of rough-skinned newt (Taricha granulosa) that lives on in Crater Lake. Prior to the introduction of trout and crayfish, this unique amphibian occupied a key ecological niche as the top aquatic predator in Crater Lake. Studies indicate that newts and crayfish rarely co-occur and crayfish displace newts from their habitats. Learn more....

Whitebark pine tree
Whitebark Pine Conservation
Whitebark pine has been declining throughout its range for decades due to infection with the non-native pathogen white pine blister rust. Additional climate change-related threats have recently emerged that are hastening the demise of whitebark pine. Scientists at Crater Lake are working with partners to identify disease resistant individuals and identify methods to conserve Whitebark Pine. Learn more.....
 Picture of Saint Johns Wort
Exotic Plant Control
Non-native, invasive plants have been spreading throughout Crater Lake National Park. Invasive species are found along park roads and trails, around facilities, and also in the park's backcountry – especially near the park's boundaries and in wetland and riparian areas. The park is actively monitoring and treating invasive plants. Park Biologists are investigating effective methods of control. Learn more....
Fire at Crater Lake National Park
Fire Effects Research
The park initiated a prescribed fire program in the mid- 1970's, and soon after questions arose about the effects of fire on old growth ponderosa pine found in the park's mixed-conifer forests. In the early 1980's, researchers at the University of Washington, began forest and fire ecology studies of the various forest types found in the park. This strong legacy of applied research continues today. Learn more....
Pumice moonwort at Crater Lake
Rare Plant Management

There are 761 vascular plant species in Crater Lake National Park. Of these 27 are listed as rare. Some like the Crater Lake Rockcress are found nowhere else in the world. Due to their limited numbers and habitats these species are vulnerable to impacts from park operations and visitor use. Park Biologists are surveying these rare plants to better understand their ecology and conservation. Learn more....

Old quarry site with old car
Disturbed Land Restoration
Many areas of Crater Lake National Park have been impacted by human use and development. Disturbance to the native landscape has introduced exotic species corridors, accelerated erosion, damaged vegetation, exposed bare soil, and weakened wilderness values. Resource managers are investigating new methods for ecological restoration in park habitats. Learn more....
Northern spotted owl looks down from a tree
Spotted Owl Monitoring
The Northern Spotted Owl is a threatened species found in Crater Lake National Park. First observed in the park in 1932, there are now 15 spotted owl activity centers in the park. Park Wildlife Biologists conduct surveys focused on monitoring long-term trends in the population at known activity centers and completing surveys in areas where park management activities may have an effect on this species. Learn more....
Red fox on snowbank
Sierra Nevada Red Fox Distribution and Genetics Research
The Sierra Nevada red fox is a rare subspecies. Until recently, there were only two known populations of less than 50 individuals. Genetic analysis of specimens from Crater Lake National Park confirm that a population of the Sierra Nevada subspecies inhabits the park. Our hope is to continue to learn more about the ecology of this species so we can ensure its longevity. Learn more....
Ranger checking bear heartbeat
Black Bear Research
Starting in 2009 two research projects helped us understand the population size, distribution, and denning activities of black bears in the park area. Hair snares placed throughout the park collected hair samples to genetically identify individual bears and estimate populations. GPS collared bears provided data on the distribution and denning habits of black bears. Learn more....
Pika on rock
Pika Occupancy Research
Pikas are very sensitive to heat stress. Recently, localized extirpations of pika have been documented in the Great Basin thought to be a result of increased warming resulting from climate change. Predictions of future climate change indicate the risk of pika extinction is considerable. Crater Lake is one of eight National Park units surveying pika occupancy and monitoring demographic change. Learn more....
Researcher with mushroom
Independent Investigations
Crater Lake National Park is a living laboratory for research scientists. Crater Lake itself has been the focal point of scientific research for more than 100 years. Independent scientists from universities and other agencies such as NASA, DOD and the Smithsonian Institution as well as private national and international scientists have conducted studies in the park. Learn more....

Last updated: May 20, 2016