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Geography: Arizona

Costs and benefits of multiple data sources in monitoring programs

Science Spotlights Posted on: September 04, 2019
Model development combining multiple data sources to leverage data source strengths and for improved parameter precision has increased, but with limited discussion on precision gain versus effort. Some data sources take more effort than others, thus knowing how much improvement is gained with these monitoring metrics is important for allocating samples on the landscape. Our framework allows research and monitoring programs to evaluate optimal use of limited funds when multiple data sources are available within the study design phase to meet study objectives.

Where the desert meets the river: Investigating southwestern riparian ecosystems

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 23, 2019
Rivers and streams of the American Southwest have been heavily altered by human activity, resulting in significant changes to disturbance regimes. Riparian vegetation in aridland floodplain systems is critically important as foraging, migrating, and breeding habitat to birds and other animal species. To conserve riparian ecosystems and organisms, understanding how plants and animals are affected by disturbance processes and multiple stressors is critical.

Big trees, bark beetles, goshawks, and timber

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 21, 2019
Throughout the Rocky Mountains over the last century, large ponderosa pine trees provided lumber for growing cities and towns, along with fuel and timber for the mining and railroad industries. Most of these forests are now occupied by dense young and mid-aged forests highly susceptible to being killed by bark beetles and burned by wildfires. These conditions have been exacerbated by fire suppression and urban encroachment. As a result, knowledge is needed to inform management actions directed at restoring and conserving ponderosa pine forests. 

Soil fungi recover slowly following high-severity wildfires

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 21, 2019
Soil fungi are important components of the soil microbial community that influence ecosystem resilience and stability after disturbances such as fire. Ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi increase water and nutrient uptake for their plant hosts in return for carbon. Saprotrophic fungi play an important role in nutrient cycling and are responsible for decomposing wood, plant litter, and soil organic matter. 

Understanding and replicating historical spatial patterns is important to create forests that are resilient to fire and other disturbances

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 21, 2019
Researchers are increasingly recognizing that ponderosa pine forests naturally occur in clumps of trees with isolated single trees in a matrix of non-forested openings. Turns out that this spatial pattern is important in sustaining ecological processes such as fire spread, tree growth and regeneration, and creates biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Yet, most past studies have examined spatial patterns on small plots, which underestimates the sizes of tree groups and openings.

Remnant old-growth ponderosa pine forests provide insights on spatial patterns

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 06, 2019
Researchers are increasingly recognizing that ponderosa pine forests naturally occur in clumps of trees with isolated single trees in a matrix of non-forested openings. It turns out that this spatial pattern is important in sustaining ecological processes such as fire spread, tree growth and regeneration, and creates biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Yet, most past studies have examined spatial patterns on small plots, which underestimates the sizes of tree groups and openings.  

Climate variability, carbon, drought and fire, in arid-semi-arid ecosystems

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 01, 2019
Using the best available science and tools, we can project the effects of today’s management actions on tomorrow’s non-forest vegetation assemblage, carbon, and productivity while considering changing climates. 

Grasslands, rangelands and beyond: Predicting landscape conditions with ST-Sim

Projects Posted on: July 31, 2019
Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists partnered with a company called Apex Resource Management Solutions (commonly known as “Apex”) to use a software-based ecological simulation tool called ST-Sim, which is short for state-and-transition simulation model. Using computer-aided modeling, land management teams can use ST-Sim to document or justify management actions in forthcoming forest plans and NEPA documentation. ST-Sim allows managers to ask landscape-wide “what-if” questions based on different management regimes and land treatments while estimating interactions with expected climate changes.

Modeling Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo suitable habitat in Arizona over the next century

Science Spotlights Posted on: July 23, 2019
The western distinct population segment of the Yellow-billed Cuckoo (wYBC), listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, has experienced severe population declines due to loss and fragmentation of riparian habitats. To assist ongoing conservation efforts by the Audubon Tucson Society, we are implementing MaxEnt to model suitable habitat for wYBC in Arizona under current and future conditions.

After Fire: Landscape toolkit for the Southwest

Science Spotlights Posted on: July 16, 2019
Wildfires, an important natural disturbance in southwestern ecosystems, can present challenges to resource managers, communities, and private landowners when they burn areas subject to post-fire flooding and erosion. Many government agencies and research institutions have developed science and management tools for estimating post-fire effects and mitigating risks in burned landscapes. We assessed the utility of currently available tools and resources for application on non-federal lands and by non-federal user groups.

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