Recent Research Highlights

  • Forest Service R&D and International Programs collaborated to establish the Sustainable Landscapes Program in Brazil with support from USAID and the the U.S. Department of State. An Institute scientist leads the program from Brazil, where he is a visiting scientist with our sister agency, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation. The program has developed partnerships with Brazilian government agencies and non-governmental organizations to improve forest carbon accounting in Brazil at local and national levels using advanced technologies such as airborne LiDAR (light detection and ranging) remote sensing - see image below.

Multi-colour lasar image of forest canopy

  • The Institute has again shown that it is at the forefront of mapping tropical forests by producing the first-ever country-wide map of tropical forest tree communities. An Institute scientist led the use of multi-season satellite imagery to complete the most detailed map in existence of the forests and land cover of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, which funded the work, and new 1:25,000 topographic maps.

Landsat satellite imagery of Trinidad and Tobago

  • Analyses of Kirtland’s Warbler data gathered over eight winters in the Bahamas continues. Results of analyses recently presented at an international conference show that rainfall in the Bahamas affects the endangered warbler’s body
    condition, which carries over to its Michigan breeding grounds. Analyses led by the Institute indicate that March droughts result in reduced body mass, which also corresponds with our cooperators’ findings that after these March droughts male Kirtland’s warblers arrive later on the breeding grounds, where late arrival results in reduced reproductive success. Therefore, wintering ground habitats that retain moisture
    during droughts are especially important for conservation of the Kirtland’s Warbler.


  • Institute scientists worked with the National Weather Service (NWS) in support of fire suppression activities. The Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Fire Departments, a Multiagency coordination group involved in regional emergency response planning, and Forest Service State and Private Forestry and National Forest System personnel collaborated to develop and implement a Fire Danger Rating System for
    Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The NWS has adopted a set of fire danger zones developed by Institute researchers to reflect ecological variation associated with fuels and fire likelihood, replacing previous fire weather zones used by the NWS that had less ecologically meaningful boundaries.

forest firefighter fighting a fire