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Forest Disturbances

Projects

Increasing use of prescribed fire by land managers and increasing likelihood of wildfires due to climate change creates a need to improve tools modelling extreme heating of soils during fires. Rocky Mountain Research scientist William Massman addressed this issue by developing and testing of a novel numerical model of soil evaporation and transport of heat, soil moisture, and water vapor under extreme conditions produced by wildfires.
This project explored fire behavior attributes under three levels of tree mortality in a southwestern U.S. forest dominated by ponderosa pine at three stages: pre-outbreak (“green stage”), immediately post-mortality when dead needles remain on trees (“red stage”), and when needles drop to the ground (“gray stage”).
Longleaf pine ecosystems are remarkably rich in plant species and represent the dominant upland forest type in several southeastern military bases. We are coupling a series of field experiments with data mining exercises to help managers monitor the impact of various activities on the understory plant community.
Tree-rings are used to reconstruct fire and forest histories in central Oregon.
The goal of this study was to better understand fire behavior and effects using remotely sensed data.
Mountain pine beetle, Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins, is the most significant disturbance agent in pine forests of western North America. Silvicultural treatments that reduce the number of susceptible host trees and alter age class distribution and species composition are considered viable options for reducing stand susceptibility to mountain pine beetle-caused mortality. Short-term efficacy of thinning treatments to reduce bark beetle-caused tree mortality has been evaluated, but long-term efficacy has not.

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