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Science Bulletins & Newsletters

For centuries, western white pine (Pinus monticola) dominated moist forests of the northern Rocky Mountains. The fast-growing species, which can reach heights of 150 feet, was once an economic driver in the region. However, not much of the former forest remains. A combination of blister rust, beetles, and logging severely reduced the range of white pine during the 20th century.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling can infer whether a species is present without the need to physically observe that species. DNA in cells sloughed off from organisms persists in the environment, where it can be collected as a water sample, extracted, and analyzed for any species of interest.
In this issue, we include topics from the importance of biocrusts on invasive versus native plant establishment, effects of dryland restoration on invasive plants, using native seed mixes (rather than nonnative grass mixes) to inhibit cheatgrass invasion after fire, and exploring volatiles of high-elevation pines to better understand resistance to insects and pathogens.
The Rocky Mountain Research Station works with National Forest planning teams to understand and maximize an important resource: forest data collected by the Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program. The program’s website, found at https://www.fia.fs.fed.
Looking into the past can help biologists and managers determine what is possible in the future. New research is helping understand the past and more accurately estimate future salmon recovery potential. Central Idaho’s Middle Fork Salmon River (MFSR) offers a glimpse of historical Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) spawning and rearing habitat.
With concern over the health of aspen in the Intermountain West, public and private land managers need better guidance for evaluating aspen condition and selecting and implementing actions that will be effective in restoring aspen health. The Utah Forest Restoration Group collaboratively synthesized a step-by-step approach for aspen restoration that was applicable to western U.S. forests.
Mesocarnivores, fisher, marten, lynx, wolverine and others, are an important part of forest ecosystems, but they are often difficult to detect, occur in low densities, and have large home ranges. This makes it difficult for biologists to estimate the number of individuals in a specific species in a particular ecosystem. Publication: RMRS-GTR-388
Sagebrush ecosystems are a major component of western U.S. landscapes and they provide vital habitat to a wide array of wildlife species, including greater sage-grouse and pygmy rabbits. However, in recent decades, sagebrush ecosystems have been reduced or degraded by a wide range of disturbances, including human development, overgrazing, severe fires, and encroachment by cheatgrass and pinyon-juniper woodlands.
In this issue, we cover new research ranging from using chili powder to improve native plant restoration, searching for a link between exotic white pine blister rust and mountain pine beetle resistance in limber pine, identifying how melting arctic sea ice could open new pathways for invasive species introductions, and research into a relatively newly established biocontrol agent for rush skeletonweed.
Wildfires are natural disturbances in the western United States. Managing the resulting stands of dead and dying trees requires balancing conflicting priorities. Although these trees provide wildlife habitat and salvage logging revenue, they also pose public safety hazards.

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