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Geography: Northern Region (R1)

Resilience Test: Can Ponderosa Pine Bounce Back After High-Severity Fire?

Documents and Media Posted on: October 28, 2021
In the absence of active management, portions of large high-severity patches may convert from ponderosa pine forests to grasslands, shrublands, or other forest types. However, other portions of large high-severity patches, particularly cooler and wetter areas near surviving trees, may recover to ponderosa pine forests or woodlands. Where ponderosa pine forests do recover, the trees may be largely distributed in heterogeneous “groupy-clumpy” spatial patterns, rather than in random or uniform patterns. Planting in high-severity patches may be most successful where climate tends to be cooler and wetter, such as at higher elevations, as natural regeneration was most successful in these areas. Planting near downed logs or other vegetation may enhance regeneration success, though it may also increase their risk of mortality in a reburn. To mimic patterns of natural regeneration in ponderosa pine forests, planting can be done in groups. Document Type: Other Documents

Population-level variation in germination cues and possible relationships to source climate for native forb species used in restoration

Projects Posted on: September 28, 2021
Seed germination is a critical step in the life history of plants. The seeds of many arid land plants delay germination until the seeds receive environmental cues that stimulate them to grow. These dormancy-breaking cues may vary among populations of the same plant species, depending on their local environmental conditions, and can determine the selection pressures experienced during plant growth and establishment.

Balancing Bird Habitat and Conifer Removal in the Great Basin

Documents and Media Posted on: September 22, 2021
Researchers created a series of species distribution models to determine if removal of pinyon-juniper woodlands will result in a loss of habitat for pinyon-juniper associated bird species to the benefit of sagebrush associated bird species. Document Type: Other Documents

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

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 24, 2021
Forest monitoring data collected throughout the western U.S. allowed us to assess the sustainability of five-needle pine populations, which face growing threats from stressors such as drought, disease, and insects. The good news is that some five-needle white pine species appear to be regenerating and growing faster than trees are dying. The bad news is that two species – whitebark and limber pines – are dying faster than growth of new and surviving trees.

Bark beetle outbreaks influence understory plants and invasive weeds

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 23, 2021
Bark beetle outbreaks alter forests in many ways, but the effects outbreaks have on understory vegetation are poorly understood despite the importance for overstory succession, nutrient cycling, water quality, soil erosion, and wildlife. Beetle outbreaks can also change forests in ways that could promote invasion by nonnative weeds, but this is rarely studied. Forest Service scientists assessed changes in understory vegetation and invasive weeds in lodgepole pine forests in the Northern Rockies following recent mountain pine beetle outbreaks.

Targeting conifer removal to address habitat needs for multiple species in the Great Basin

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 23, 2021
To restore sagebrush habitat in the Great Basin, managers are conducting large-scale conifer removal efforts. Such large-scale habitat modification may result in unintended ecological trade-offs for wildlife. We investigated these tradeoffs for two sagebrush associated species and three conifer associated species of conservation concern in the Great Basin. 

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

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 05, 2021
  Ecological restoration commonly emphasizes reestablishing native plant communities under the assumption that restoring plant communities will also restore wildlife, but this assumption is rarely tested. We demonstrate that actively restoring exotic-dominated grasslands to more native plant communities can passively restore the structure and function of native small mammal communities. However, restored consumer functions like seed predation can incur undesirable feedbacks like suppressing native plant establishment, which may require temporary mitigation

Subalpine fir mortality and drought

Science Spotlights Posted on: July 28, 2021
Extensive mortality of subalpine fir has occurred over the past 25 years across western North America, but causes of this tree mortality are poorly understood. This research explores causes of this mortality and associated agents across multiple scales.

Harvesting can alter soil carbon and nitrogen

Science Spotlights Posted on: July 20, 2021
We conducted two meta-analyses to understand the impacts of forest residue removal on soil carbon and nitrogen.  There is less soil carbon when whole tree harvesting is combined with forest floor removal.  Control of competing vegetation also reduces soil carbon.  Soil nitrogen largely mirrors soil carbon changes.

Ultrasound imaging identifies life history variation in resident cutthroat trout

Science Spotlights Posted on: July 19, 2021
We tested the use of ultrasound imaging to nonlethally assess the maturity of resident westslope cutthroat trout. Through this work, we observed the smallest mature female ever documented for this species.