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Geography: Rocky Mountain Region (R2)

Augmenting forest inventories: Using drones to derive individual tree metrics

Science Spotlights Posted on: December 19, 2022
Management decisions are only as good as the data available to support them and in many instances, forest inventory data is limited in its extent due to cost. One option to make more extensive project level data available to managers is the use of unmanned aerial system to remotely characterize individual trees. Early testing of these methods on ponderosa pine-dominated forests has been able exceed common field inventory standards for precision and accuracy.

Beaver ponds as biogeochemical hotspots in burned watersheds

Science Spotlights Posted on: December 09, 2022
Beaver ponds are biogeochemical hotspots that may influence post-fire water quality. The microbial communities that thrive in the saturated sediments of beaver ponds have the potential to metabolize wildfire-created compounds such as the necromass of soil fauna killed during heating.

Forest inventory data provide a new method for mapping forest canopy and understory vegetation densities

Science Spotlights Posted on: December 09, 2022
We developed a new method for mapping the density of forest canopies and shorter vegetation, thus producing separate overstory and understory density maps, using data collected by the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program. Our maps of separate forest canopy and understory vegetation layers are expected to allow hydrologists to make more accurate predictions regarding the effects of future vegetation changes on water supply.

Getting More Fire on the Ground: Landscape-Scale Prescribed Burning Supported by Science

Documents and Media Posted on: November 09, 2022
Scientists with RMRS, and many others throughout the research community, are working to advance our understanding of fire, developing planning tools, and understanding public perceptions of fire management activities to help managers reduce barriers to conducting landscape-level prescribed fires. Partnerships between land managers, such as those on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, and scientists may be one of the keys to ramping up prescribed fire programs. Document Type: Other Documents

Asymmetric phenological changes projected for U.S. rangelands

Science Spotlights Posted on: October 24, 2022
Phenological changes are projected to change growing season dynamics and potentially change ecosystem function leading to asymmetric vegetation responses. Contrary to some other research, we project that growing seasons are expected to be shorter in the future by as much as 30 days in some regions suggesting changes in management techniques and regimes will likely be necessary. 

New horizons for proactive, risk-informed strategic land and fire management

Science Spotlights Posted on: September 30, 2022
The PODs (potential operational delineations) concept is an adaptive framework for cross-boundary and collaborative land and fire management planning. Early evidence suggests PODs provide utility for planning, communication, coordination, prioritization, incident response strategy development, and fuels mitigation and forest restoration. This work explores new horizons that would help land and fire management organizations better address risks and capitalize on opportunities.

Climate change impacts invasive perennial grass establishment

Science Spotlights Posted on: September 07, 2022
Climate change and grazing can alter the invasion success of perennial grasses by influencing their establishment as young plants. Young perennial plant survival and success is dependent on the formation and use of their belowground bud bank to facilitate clonal growth through the vegetative reproduction of new aboveground stems.  In young plants, clonal traits of the invasive grass Smooth Brome (Bromus inermis) favored its superior expansion and population growth compared to the native grass Western Wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii) except under the most severe climate change scenario.  

Wildfire: Helping Aspen Get One Step Ahead of a Warming Climate

Documents and Media Posted on: September 06, 2022
Fire can be a useful tool for promoting migrations of shade-intolerant wind-dispersed species such as aspen. Aspen successfully established in burned areas far from seed sources, so managers may choose to focus attention on other species in postburn reforestation. Document Type: Other Documents

Developing novel approaches to manage Armillaria root disease in coniferous forests of the western U.S.

Science Spotlights Posted on: September 01, 2022
Recent and ongoing studies are using bioclimatic modeling, genomic sequencing of Armillaria spp., and identifications of soil microbial communities to develop novel approaches to manage Armillaria root disease.

Forb genetic research provides a basis for restoration

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 23, 2022
Diverse native forb communities are indicators of healthy ecosystems. Given the increasing frequency of disturbance and climate change perturbation affecting the establishment of native plant communities, restoration of native forbs is often required. RMRS staff and partners are focused on uncovering the genetic, evolutionary, and ecological underpinning of these understudied species to promote the appropriate application of native forbs in restoration.