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Keyword: disturbance ecology

Tree-ring-based reconstructions of historical fire regimes for quaking aspen, Great Basin bristlecone pine and mountain sagebrush communities

Projects Posted on: August 07, 2019
Tree-ring based fire histories from Utah and Nevada reveal multi-century fire patterns for quaking aspen, mountain sagebrush and Great Basin bristlecone pine communities.

Forest changes during fire exclusion are rapid and have profound effects

Science Spotlights Posted on: October 12, 2018
The 20th Century was a period of enormous change for western forests. Fire used to maintain distinct forest vegetation communities – pine, dry mixed-conifer, mesic mixed-conifer, and spruce-fir – in close proximity to one another along steep vertical gradients in the topographically diverse forests of the American Southwest. How did these forests change in response to fire exclusion? In what ways and how rapidly? What are the consequences of these changes? It is important to provide context for the condition of today’s forests, but more importantly, how can this information help today’s managers?

Subwatershed-level lodgepole pine attributes associated with a mountain pine beetle outbreak

Publications Posted on: October 03, 2018
Mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins; MPB) is an aggressive bark beetle that attacks numerous Pinus spp. and causes extensive mortality in lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Douglas ex Loudon; LPP) forests in the western United States and Canada.

Fire in the forest

Publications Posted on: August 01, 2018
From ancient philosophies to present day science, the ubiquity of change and the process of transformation are core concepts. The primary focus of a recent white paper on disturbance ecology is summed up by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who stated, "Nothing is permanent but change." Disturbance processes, such as fire, provide a window into the emerging world of nonequilibrium theory.

Canada lynx are persisting in spruce-beetle impacted forests

Science Spotlights Posted on: August 25, 2016
Spruce-bark beetles impacted about 480,000 acres of spruce-fir forests in southern Colorado and are spreading at the rate of 100,000 acres annually.  A central question is how to salvage for timber production insect-impacted forests in ways consistent with the management and conservation of Canada lynx, a federally-listed species.

Genetic diversity and genecology of squirreltail (Elymus elymoides)

Projects Posted on: February 09, 2016
Squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) can rapidly colonize disturbed sites, is relatively fire-tolerant, and is a potential competitor with medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) and cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). Determining the extent to which adaptive genetic variation is related to climatic variation is needed to ensure that the proper germplasm is chosen for revegetation and restoration. This study provides (1) seed zones and seed transfer guidelines for developing adapted plant materials of squirreltail for revegetation and restoration in the Great Basin and adjacent areas and (2) guidelines for conservation of germplasm within the National Plant Germplasm System.

Genetic diversity of prairie junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)

Projects Posted on: February 09, 2016
Good drought tolerance and fibrous roots make prairie junegrass (Koeleria macrantha) beneficial for revegetation and erosion control on mined lands, over septic systems, in construction areas, on burned sites, and in other disturbed areas. There is a need for greater genetic knowledge of this species to ensure adapted populations are used for restoration and revegetation projects. This study provides (1) seed zones and seed transfer guidelines for developing adapted plant materials of prairie junegrass for revegetation and restoration in the Great Basin and adjacent areas and (2) guidelines for conservation of germplasm within the National Plant Germplasm System.

Testing the efficacy of seed zones for re-establishment and adaptation of bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)

Projects Posted on: February 09, 2016
Previous research funded by the Great Basin Native Plant Project found that bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) populations differed in traits important for adaptation to precipitation and temperature (St. Clair et al. 2013). Forest Service scientists hypothesize that in the long-term, populations from local seed zones will better establish, survive, and reproduce than those from non-local seed zones. This study examines the efficacy of seed zones for bluebunch wheatgrass to ensure successful establishment and allow for long-term adaptation by maintaining genetic diversity.

The Great Basin Native Plant Project

Science Spotlights Posted on: January 22, 2016
The Great Basin Native Plant Project seeks to increase the availability of genetically appropriate native plant materials and to provide the knowledge and technology required for their use in restoring diverse native plant communities across the Great Basin. This multi-state, collaborative research project was initiated in 2001 by the Plant Conservation Program of the BLM and the Grassland, Shrubland, and Desert Ecosystem Research Program of the Rocky Mountain Research Station.

Combined effects of a changing climate drive mountain pine beetle outbreaks

Science Spotlights Posted on: September 09, 2015
An ideal combination of temperature and precipitation associated with a changing climate are responsible for recent Mountain Pine Beetle population outbreaks. Field-validated models that describe the intricate temperature-dependent processes that foster Mountain Pine Beetle success allows us to predict forest vulnerability in a changing climate.