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Animal ecology

Science Spotlights

Mountainous forested landscape in summer
The report includes descriptive highlights and tables of area, numbers of trees, biomass, volume, growth, and mortality on forested lands. Also included are analyses on wildlife habitat and a case study that uses the Forest Vegetation Simulator tool to project possible future conditions of the Pinyon-juniper woodlands that dominate Nevada’s forested landscape. 
Spotted owl resting on branch
A major barrier to increasing the pace and scale of forest restoration has been concern over potential impacts to sensitive old-forest species, like the spotted owl. This study shows that contrary to common perceptions, forest restoration is expected to provide net benefits to spotted owls through reducing their exposure to stand-replacing wildfire.
Forested landscape of a mixed severity fire showing a mosaic burn pattern
There is a popular hypothesis in the scientific literature that ‘pyrodiversity begets biodiversity’ – that is, places with more variety in fire characteristics (e.g., severity, time-since-fire) will support more species of plants and animals. But empirical support for the hypothesis is mixed. We synthesized the literature on pyrodiversity, attempted to explain why evidence for the hypothesis is so mixed, and set out a path for clarifying this...
westslope cutthroat trout being held prior to release
Historically, Idaho westslope cutthroat trout (WCT) were extremely abundant and widely distributed. Despite conservation measures since 1899, many WCT populations declined and by the 1960s, populations in several major drainages were on the brink of collapse. In response, fisheries researchers began investigating WCT populations and worked with managers to develop evidence-based regulations and habitat restoration alternatives that rebuilt...
A deer in a grassy area.
This research modeled deer densities and land classes, which substantiated that deer occurred at greater densities in deciduous forests and lower densities in agricultural and residential development.
A pronghorn
Identifying and enhancing habitat for large ungulates in the Great Basin has become an increased priority. To aid in this effort, we mapped current and future habitat and corridor areas for pronghorn across this region. 
Koa trees with a blanket of grass underneath.
Planting old pastures with the native tree Acacia koa is a common forest restoration strategy in Hawaii, with goals including natural secondary succession to more diverse forest. Often, however, alien grasses remain dominant in the understory, without native species naturally recruiting into restoration areas. We explored the causes.
A stand of fire-killed trees that before the 2014 King fire was a productive nest stand for spotted owls.
Large, severe fires (or “megafires”) are becoming more common in many forest systems, but relatively little is known about the longer-term effects of megafires on ecosystems and the wildlife that inhabit them. This work examines the persistent effects of a 2014 megafire on a well-studied population of California spotted owls, showing an enduring loss of individuals and nesting structures.
Five maps of the Great Basin ecoregion
To restore sagebrush habitat in the Great Basin, managers are conducting large-scale conifer removal efforts. Such large-scale habitat modification may result in unintended ecological trade-offs for wildlife. We investigated these tradeoffs for two sagebrush associated species and three conifer associated species of conservation concern in the Great Basin. 
Colorful map of AZ and NM
RMRS scientist Samuel Cushman has led the development and application of approaches to optimize multi-scale wildlife habitat relationships. We applied these methods to several American marten datasets and found very strong scale dependence of habitat relationships. We further explored how these methods improve understanding of brown bear habitat selection in Spain and understand niche partitioning of two sympatric marten species.