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Geography: New Mexico

Looking belowground: Investigations into belowground plant organs in grasslands and around the world

Projects Posted on: October 15, 2019
Belowground plant structures support aboveground regeneration in ecosystems around the world.  More research is needed to document and understand the anatomy, physiology, demography and ecological role of belowground plant organs.  By working with a global network of scientists we aim to provide research, syntheses and protocols on belowground plant traits.

A public engagement protocol: Social science in support of planning efforts

Science Spotlights Posted on: September 10, 2019
A recently released ‘social vulnerability’ protocol provides a detailed manual for applying social science to support forest and river planning efforts (e.g., forest plan revision). Specifically, the protocol is designed to engage the public about the importance of (and tradeoffs among) ecosystem services, as well as those drivers of change influential to such benefits.

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. 

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.

To masticate or not: Useful tips for treating vegetation

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 21, 2019
Recently, several large fires have burned through masticated sites – including in Colorado (Brewer et al. 2013), Washington, and New Mexico. Burning under extreme weather conditions with strong winds, these fires have challenged the benefits of using mastication, even though mastication can provide many positive environmental effects, such as soil moisture retention and cool, moist environments for soil microbes. However, informing managers when, where, and how mastication is applied is based on antidotal evidence. To address, this issue we synthesized information to provide managers with a current state of knowledge on mastication.

Beetle pheromones and maple volatiles reduce spruce beetle attacks on spruce trees

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 21, 2019
The spruce beetle is the most significant mortality agent of spruce in western North America, and management options are limited. In cooperation with FHP partners, a novel combination of a beetle-produced pheromone (MCH) and compounds from a non-host (maple) tree (AKB) were shown to be repellent to spruce beetles. High-release rate MCH-AKB devices that are attached to live spruce can reduce spruce beetle attacks on individual trees and small groups of trees.

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.

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