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Forest Inventory and Analysis

Science Spotlights

Forest plot data is matched to gridded landscape data from LANDFIRE using the random forests method. The output consists of a grid of the IDs for the best-matching plot for each pixel. of the number, size, and species of trees in forests across the western United States are desirable for a number of applications including estimating terrestrial carbon resources, tree mortality following wildfires, and for forest inventory. However, detailed mapping of trees for large areas is not feasible with current technologies. We used a statistical method called random forests for matching...
There is new methodology for fitting ecologically feasible “shapes” to time series of Landsat imagery for modeling, mapping, and monitoring annual forest disturbance dynamics. Through a case study of fire, harvest and bark beetle outbreak, scientists illustrate how resultant fitted values and parameters can be fed into empirical models to map disturbance causal agent and tree canopy cover changes coincident with disturbance events through time.
Pinyon jays perched atop berry-laden juniper tree.
Over the past century, many pinyon-juniper woodlands in the Great Basin have expanded their range and increased their stand densities. These changes in structure and extent have effects on both the species that use the woodlands and to species whose habitat is being encroached by them. We observed and described where pinyon jays prefer to cache seeds in order to gain an understanding on how and where expansion and infill is likely to occur and...
Trends in forest attributes are typically assessed using long-term forest inventories, but trends can only be assessed when inventory methods are compatible over time. This study demonstrated an appropriate method of comparing historical to current inventory data, showing that comparisons not accounting for changing inventory methods can produce misleading results about forest trends in western states.
Spruce beetles are a native insect that infest spruce forests.
In recent decades, bark beetle disturbances are increasing in extent and severity across western forests. Causes and consequences of spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) infestation are important to the management of Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) forests. Forest Service scientists modeled the effects of increased temperatures and changing forest stand conditions, such as density and species composition, on the likelihood of spruce...
Lubrecht Experimental Forest was a study site for this project.
Researchers with the Rocky Mountain Research Station investigated a number of fuel characteristics across major surface and canopy fuel components that comprise northern Rocky Mountain forest and range fuelbeds. They found that most fuel components have high variability that increases with fuel particle size.
Permanent study plot in 2008 one year following timber harvest.
Scientists with the Rocky Mountain Research Station and university partners are investigating the short- and long-term resiliency of understory vegetation of ponderosa pine forests to a variety disturbances associated with timber harvest. Creating and maintaining a healthy forest relies on the resiliency of understory vegetation.
China has significant and growing forest resources, but those resources have been a mystery to most of the world until recently. RMRS work with the Chinese National Forest Inventory has helped to document methods and conclusions of China’s efforts to understand its own forests.
Climate change is dramatically altering the distribution, population connectivity and adaptive variation of conifer trees across the western United States, including large range shifts, reorganization of tree communities, die-offs, and decreases in productivity. This project has provided several important tools and applications to managers, including spatially explicit, fine-scale, broad-extent, quantitative predictions of changes in species...
Example of high-resolution LiDar data of canopy heights.
Airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology uses lasers mounted on aircraft to image the 3-D structure of trees and other objects on the ground. RMRS Research Forester Andrew Hudak and others are developing relationships between LiDAR estimates and traditional forestry measures collected on the ground to develop maps of forest biomass and predict changes over time. Managers can benefit from this precise, spatially explicit...