Research Roundup

Overviews of the climate change work happening at Forest Service research stations.
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Climate change and fire severity mapping
Rocky Mountain Research Station

Large, severe fires are ecologically and socially important because they have lasting effects on vegetation and soils, can potentially threaten people and property, and can be costly to manage. The goals of the Fire Severity Mapping Project (FIRESEV), which covers lands in the continental western United States, are to understand where and why fires burn severely, and to give fire managers, fire ecologists, and natural resource managers tools to assess severity before, during, and after a wildfire. FIRESEV has produced a suite of tools for a wide range of fire management applications, including real-time forecasts and assessments in wildfire situations, post-wildfire rehabilitation efforts, and long-term planning. The development of these tools was supported by National Fire Plan and Joint Fire Science Program funding.

Contact: Bob Keane
Monitoring wildlife habitat
Pacific Northwest Research Station
Rocky Mountain Research Station

Noninvasive genetic sampling has become the most effective way to reliably sample occurrence of many species. In addition, genetic data provide a rich data source enabling the monitoring of population status. Collecting genetically based animal data along with information on vegetation and topography enables the development of habitat relationships and evaluation of population attributes. Scientists can use these data to develop statistical models, monitor animal populations, and evaluate habitat connectivity.

Contact: Kevin McKelvey
Habitat Corridors for Canada Lynx
Rocky Mountain Research Station

RMRS scientists are researching factors that are important for managing the federally threatened Canada lynx, which can be negatively affected by human caused disturbances and climate change. One key factor is maintaining connectivity so that lynx can move between populations. Recent research revealed only a few corridors of lynx habitat between Canada and the conterminous US. Maintaining the integrity of these connectivity corridors is of primary importance to lynx conservation in the Northern Rockies.

Contact: John Squires
Wolverines and Climate Constraints
Rocky Mountain Research Station
Pacific Northwest Research Station

Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists have shown that historical wolverine distribution was highly correlated with persistent snow. Genetic analysis reinforced these understandings and showed that the occurrence patterns had been present for at least 2,000 years. Wolverine's snow association is likely due to the location of reproductive dens in snow. Researchers collaborated to project snow patterns into the future and determine the likely effects of snow cover changes on wolverines.

Contact: Kevin McKelvey
Climate Aquatics Blog
Rocky Mountain Research Station

This blog and associated discussion group provide a forum for researchers, scientists, and managers to discuss aquatic ecosystems and climate change. Posts highlight peer reviewed research and science tools relevant to this subject.

Contact: Dan Isaak
Boise Aquatic Sciences Laboratory
Rocky Mountain Research Station

Scientists at the laboratory are leading several collaborative research efforts related to climate change and aquatic ecosystems. Some examples include understanding the effects of climate change on stream habitats and fish communities, particularly in the case of native trout and salmon, and examining the effects of fire disturbance on stream habitats. Please browse the Scientist Profile pages for more project descriptions and publications.

Contact: Dan Isaak
Adapting to Climate Change in Olympic National Forest
Pacific Northwest Research Station

The Climate Change Adaptation Case Study at Olympic National Forest, with Olympic National Park as a partner, had the objective of determining how to adapt management of federal lands on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington, to climate change. The case study process involved science-based sensitivity assessments, review of management activities and constraints, and adaptation workshops in each of four focus areas (hydrology and roads, vegetation, wildlife, and fisheries). The process produced concrete adaptation options for Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park, and illustrated the utility of place-based vulnerability assessment and scientist-manager workshops in adapting to climate change.

Contact: Dave Peterson
Response of Subalpine Conifers to 20th Century Climate Variability in the Sierra Nevada: Meadow invasion, snowfield colonization, and changes in growth, form, and genetic diversity
Pacific Southwest Research Station

Using tree-ring methods, ecological plot evaluation, and genetic analysis, PSW scientists are investigating multiple and independent indicators of vegetation response in subalpine conifers to 20th century climate change.

Contact: Connie Millar