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Science Spotlights

Background The public, forest managers, and scientists now have the most comprehensive inventory of forest health trends in New Mexico’s history. The report New Mexico’s Forest Resources, 2008-2012, summarizes the most recent inventory of New Mexico’s forests based on field data collected from more than 3,000 forest areas between 2008 and 2012.
Understanding trends in forest disturbance caused by fire, harvest, stress, weather, and conversion is important for many forest management decisions as well as scientific investigations. After a decade of collaborative work between the Forest Service, NASA, University of Maryland and other partners, the North American Forest Dynamics (NAFD) project has processed historic Landsat data. This effort provides a comprehensive annual, wall-to-wall...
Given the continuing concern over nonpoint-source pollution, Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists sought to understand how the risk of water quality impairment from nonpoint sources varies across the nearly 3,700 fifth-level watersheds in the U.S. containing lands of the National Forest System.
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...
We quantified and ranked invasiveness and impact for 48 exotic plant species based on surveys over 20,000 km2 of grasslands in western Montana. These data provide a valuable tool for managers to determine the relative impacts of invaders for prioritizing exotic plants for control in the bluebunch wheatgrass habitat type.
Fishers are a rare and secretive carnivore in the Rocky Mountains and along the West Coast.  They are currently being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.  They are also being considered as a Species of Conservation Concern on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests.
The bull trout is an ESA-listed species that relies on cold stream environments across the Northwest and is expected to decline with climate change. Resource managers from dozens of agencies are charged with maintaining bull trout in thousands of streams, but monitoring this species is difficult. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is much faster, easier, and more sensitive than traditional fish sampling methods and provides an opportunity to better...
Habitat suitability models provide critical information needed for forest management plans to accommodate biodiversity conservation. We are developing GIS-based application tools for forest managers that requires minimal technical expertise to create habitat maps.
A project led by Rocky Mountain Research Station scientist Karen Short provides one-stop access to mappable information about 22 years of U.S. wildfires from federal, state, and local fire reporting systems.