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2021 Research Highlights for the Rocky Mountain Research Station

headshot of RMRS Station Director Monica Lear


Rocky Mountain Research Station science improves lives and landscapes, supports shared stewardship, and informs land management decisions. I am proud to feature these twenty RMRS Fiscal Year 2021 Research Highlights. These selections are a just a small part of the excellent work done by the Station's researchers this year. From understanding the impacts of changing climate and fire regimes, to investigating patterns of tree mortality and resistance, to improving approaches to restoration and recovery, this work will help sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands. Our scientists continue to make valuable contributions to the agency's mission and to the long legacy of Forest Service Research and Development.

I encourage you to browse all of the Highlights below and click on the links to read more about each selection. I also invite you to view the other sections of our website, including our Science Spotlights, Projects, Tools, Webinars, and Science You Can Use series, to learn more about what we do here at RMRS.




Area burned at high severity is increasing in western U.S. forests


Avoiding a series of unfortunate events: evaluating unintended consequences of conservation


Harbingers of change in the Arizona Sky Islands


Harvesting can alter soil carbon and nitrogen


Subalpine fir mortality and drought


Development of a Forest Service organizational safety culture


Does active plant restoration passively restore native fauna community structure and function? 


Habitat and growth of ponderosa pine seedlings 11-16 years after fire 


How much fuel is consumed in a wildfire?


Infrequent periods of favorable conditions drive post-fire sagebrush recovery 


Is severe fire good or bad for spotted owls?


Large, fast-growing ponderosa pine were most resistant to drought and bark beetle attacks


Occupancy modeling and resampling produces accurate estimates of COVID-19 prevalence


Pollinators of the Great Plains: Disturbances, stressors, management, and research needs


Quantifying ecological resilience at landscape scales


Seeing the forest AND the trees: TreeMap provides a tree-level forest model


Status of five-needle white pine populations in the western U.S..


Strengthening the native seed supply chain


Sustainable timber harvest on the Black Hills National Forest


Variation in the defense response of blue and Engelmann spruce provides insights into mechanisms of tree resistance



A map of RMRS labs and experimental forests.




The Rocky Mountain Research Station is one of seven units within USDA Forest Service Research & Development. RMRS maintains 14 field laboratories throughout a 12-state geography encompassing parts of the Great Basin, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and the Great Plains. While anchored in the geography of the West, our research is global in scale. RMRS also administers and conducts research on 14 experimental forests, ranges and watersheds and maintains long-term research databases for these areas. Our science improves lives and landscapes and supports Shared Stewardship and National Research Priorities

research highlights