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Fire ecology


The Air, Water and Aquatic Environments Science Program has developed a suite of internet interfaces, the Forest Service Water Erosion Prediction Project (FS WEPP), designed to allow users to quickly evaluate erosion and sediment delivery potential from forest roads.
In the interior West, western spruce budworm outbreaks often last for decades, but their impact on fire behavior is poorly understood. By isolating the effects of the insect on a single tree and simulating the tree in a three-dimensional fire model, researchers were able to identify precise links between western spruce budworm disturbance and fire behavior changes.
Whitebark pine trees, a valuable keystone species that provides food to hundreds of wildlife species, cover a significant portion of national forests in the Northern Rocky Mountains but have been rapidly declining because of blister rust infections, mountain pine beetle outbreaks, and fire exclusion. A restoration technique called daylighting, in which competing trees that surround the whitebark pine are removed, is playing an increasing role in whitebark pine restoration.
Tree-rings are used to reconstruct fire and forest histories in central Oregon.
Integrating Forests, Fish, and Fire (IF3) is a Bayesian decision-support model that uses information on forest vegetation, human alterations to habitat, and the potential for fire to predict the post-fire persistence of stream fish populations. The model's purpose is to evaluate alternative vectors for maximizing resilience to future fire activity in forest stands that support such sensitive stream fish as bull trout.
Spatial and temporal conifer regeneration dynamics for silvicultural prescriptions.
RMRS and partners have developed a strategy to sustain healthy high elevation pine populations and mitigate the impact of invasion by the non-native pathogen that causes the lethal disease white pine blister rust. This approach provides the science foundation for proactive management.   
The avifauna within the Sky Islands of southeastern Arizona includes species found nowhere else in the United States. Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists initiated a study in the 1990s on avian distribution and habitat associations within the Sky Islands. This project involves monitoring vegetation and bird populations following wildfires, applying climate change models to assess potential changes and explore strategies for managing resilient forests and avian populations, and engaging citizens in data collection and long-term avian monitoring.  
Researchers measured surface fuel litterfall and decomposition in the northern Rocky Mountains, United States. These rates were used to estimate fuel dynamics parameters in complex landscape models of fire and vegetation dynamics.