Seasonal PhenoCam images of the Prairie Peninsula National Ecological Observation Network (NEON) site, Konza Prairie Biological Station, Kansas. These grass growth and senescence changes are captured by PhenoMap. Photos courtesy of the PhenoCam network.
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to the complex ecological interactions between plants and the environment. For range managers concerned with maintaining the integrity and productivity of rangelands, it is critical to monitor the seasonal development and condition of grasses and other vegetation on which cattle graze.
Jeffrey pine. USDI Bureau of Land Management photo.
Just as a high or low temperature alerts a doctor to illness in a patient, scientists have developed a method for taking a tree’s temperature to determine drought stress before the tree is showing other visible signs. Using existing Forest Service remote sensors on a fixed wing platform, the newly calibrated and validated approach can detect tree drought stress across swaths of the forest.
A meadow of wildflowers in the Los Padres National Forest, California, provides scenic views and habitat, among other ecosystem services. Photo by USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.
After wildfires, resource managers on national forests often prepare natural resource damage assessments that quantify the impacts of the wildfire on natural resources and the ecosystem services they provide.
A northern spotted owl. USDA Forest Service photo by Damon Lesmeister.
Northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina) are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Populations have been monitored since the mid-1980s by using labor intensive mark–recapture methods that require researchers to conduct nocturnal callback surveys and use mice to lure owls for capture and leg-band reading.
A hiker picks huckleberries in the Cascade Range, Washington. USDA Forest Service photo by Becky Kerns.
American Indians may be highly vulnerable to climate change because they disproportionately depend on place-based natural resources and ecosystem services for food, water, medicine, spiritual needs, and cultural identity. Tribal land ownership is irregularly distributed across the Pacific Northwest and some recognized tribes do not have reservations.
Wind River Experimental Forest, Washington. USDA Forest Service photo by Tom Iraci.
Old‐growth coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest are among the most productive temperate ecosystems and have the capacity to store large amounts of carbon for multiple centuries. There are considerable limitations to the simulation models that have been used to explore this ecosystem.
The 2014 Carlton Complex Fire in Washington is one of several past large wildfires being studied to determine how fuel treatment programs and past wildfires affect the spread and severity of wildfires. Photo courtesy of Adam Cohen.
The 2014 Carlton Complex Fire in north-central Washington was a “megafire.” It burned 167,000 acres within 24 hours, driven by strong warm winds through a drought-ridden landscape.
The Fremont-Winema National Forest, Oregon. Several ranger districts on the forest collaborated with researchers to develop a tool for quickly prioritizing the removal of pines in poor health.
U.S. Forest Service photo by Tom Iraci
Fuels-reduction treatments are an opportune time to remove trees in poor health and significantly increase the proportion of high-vigor trees remaining in the stand after treatment.
Thinning followed by prescribed burn.
Where will fuel-reduction treatments be most effective? This is a key question for land managers challenged by a finite budget and public expectations to protect specific highly valued resources while meeting goals to restore fire resilience to large forested landscapes.
House saved from fire in wildland-urban interface in central Oregon.
Station scientists wanted to know how nonindustrial private forest owners in eastern Oregon perceive and address wildfire risk. They discovered that 75 percent of surveyed owners of ponderosa pine forests had treated some portion of their land between 2003 and 2008. Primary residents were almost eight times more likely to reduce fire risk on their property than absentee owners.