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Climate Change

Projects

Forest management and natural disturbance can have a significant impact on storage or emission of greenhouse gases. Researchers with the Rocky Mountain Research Station designed the Forest Carbon Management Framework (ForCaMF) to model how harvested and burned stands contribute to overall carbon storage over different time scales. ForCaMF was used to conduct analyses across all 76 million ha of National Forest System land by Forest Service Region. Through informed forest management, additional forest carbon storage is achievable.
In 2012, the Southern Rockies Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) identified a need for synthesis products and tools to help managers identify vulnerability assessments and literature relevant to the Interior Western U.S. In response to this need, Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists compiled climate change vulnerability literature for the western U.S. with a focus on the states and regions within the Southern Rockies LCC boundary.
The Cascabel watershed study was initiated in 1999 by Rocky Mountain Research Station Scientists as part of the Southwestern Borderlands Ecosystem Management Project. The study is a collaborative, interdisciplinary project to determine the effects of cool season and warm season prescribed burning on an oak-savanna ecosystem common to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
The National Stream Internet (NSI) is a network of people, data, and analytical techniques that interact synergistically to create information about streams. The NSI is needed because accurate, high-resolution status and trend information does not exist for most biological and water quality attributes across the 5.5 million stream kilometers in the United States.
Land managers require high-quality information on species and habitats at risk to develop effective management strategies. In the absence of information on these species and their habitats, agencies frequently err on the side of the species and make conservative, and often unnecessary, decisions relative to habitat protection. Over 20 years of research by scientists with the Rocky Mountain Research Station are helping address these information needs.
A number of native bark beetles can cause tree mortality in western forests and urban environments. These insects have co-evolved over thousands of years with their host trees and are an integral part of forest ecosystems. Researchers are conducting numerous studies to better understand beetle’s ecological role in shaping forest composition and structure.
Climate change will affect wildlife directly through temperature and moisture changes and indirectly through habitat availability as vegetation types and ecosystem productivity changes. Our study focuses on the western United States, on an annual time frame, and at a 0.083 degree grid cell spatial scale.
Canada lynx, and their primary prey snowshoe hares, live in high-elevation spruce-fir forests, which are increasingly modified by spruce-bark beetle outbreaks. The goal of our research is to combine lynx use of insect-impacted forests with measures of forest condition.  Our results will inform forest prescriptions that facilitate timber-salvage and lynx conservation.
In the last decade there has been growing use of ecosystem services to economically justify biodiversity conservation programs that ultimately contribute to human well-being. The short term costs of biodiversity degradation remain overshadowed by the short term economic benefits of resource extraction and land use intensification to support growing human populations. Spatially explicit models of at-risk species occurrence are needed to anticipate where imperilment issues are likely to emerge in the future under alternative climate and land use scenarios. 
Synergistic interactions of climate change, mountain pine beetle infestations, and wildfire are likely to catalyze landscape-scale changes in vegetation distributions, successional stage, forest structure, and wildlife habitat suitability. Our research will provide forest managers with information they need to project changes to habitat suitability for wildlife under a range of alternative climate and management scenarios.

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