A major landslide near Oso, Washington, in March 2014 dramatically disturbed the aquatic and riparian ecosystems along portions of the North Fork Stillaguamish River. Photo courtesy of Air Support Unit, King County Sheriff’s Office.
Natural disturbances help create and sustain diverse habitat and biological complexities across the landscape. The resulting diversity enhances the resilience of the ecosystem to stressors. If allowed enough time, biological diversity can play out on a template of locally complex habitat conditions created by natural disturbances.
A caddisfly—freshwater prey for Chinook salmon. Streams with greater biodiversity appear more resilient to environmental change compared to streams with lower biodiversity. USDA Forest Service photo by J. Ryan Bellmore.
Biodiversity plays a key role in ecological processes and the delivery of ecosystem services. Most of the central issues facing conservation involve understanding the effects of economic activity on biodiversity and ecosystems.
Coos Bay, Oregon, historically supported a diversity of logging and milling operations. USDA Forest Service photo by Susan Charnley.
The Forest Service 2012 planning rule requires the use of the best available science to inform decisions.
Spirit Lake, with Mount St. Helens in background, 2015.
U.S. Forest Service photo by Rhonda Mazza
The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens produced a massive landslide and pyroclastic flows that blocked the outlet to Spirit Lake. Without an outlet, the lake began to rise, threatening to breach the blockage and release a massive, destructive flood. To mitigate this hazard, in 1984–1985 the U.S.
Kristen Munday records the browsing habits of a tame, radio-collared elk in the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range, Oregon.
U.S. Forest Service photo by Mike Wisdom
Herbivores can have profound impacts on understory vegetation in dry forests of western North America, including changing fuel loading and fire risk. The effects, however, can be difficult to assess over short time periods, especially without controlled studies, and most mammalian herbivory effects are assumed to be benign.
Anna Ringelman, an intern at the Juneau Forestry Sciences Laboratory at the time, installs a water temperature gauge in Canyon Creek in the Héen Latinee Experimental Forest. U.S. Forest Service photo by Rick Edwards.
Warming trends in southeast Alaska will have a potentially significant impact on salmon habitat by altering thermal regimes in streams. In addition to general warming resulting from increased air temperatures, loss of glacial water inputs will have profound effects on the range and seasonality of water temperatures.
Trout Creek, Washington, 2 years after removal of Hemlock Dam. U.S. Forest Service photo by Shannon Claeson.
Dam decommissioning is rapidly emerging as an important river restoration strategy in the United States. Few studies, however, have evaluated the far-reaching environmental consequences of dam removal. In particular, interactions between physical and ecological aspects of dam removal are poorly known.