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Fire ecology

Science Spotlights

RMRS scientists recently completed a 10 year study of a population of threatened Mexican spotted owls (Strix occidentalis lucida) in the Sacramento Mountains, New Mexico. This study evaluated demography, habitat use, and diet composition of spotted owls, as well as forest structure characteristic of owl habitat. We determined that most owl nests are located in wet mixed-conifer forests not greatly in need of ecological restoration.
A recently implemented science-based ponderosa pine restoration treatment site on the Pike National Forest near Manitou Experimental Forest (photo by Mike A Battaglia).
Ponderosa pine forests vary greatly from region to region across the western United States. Our research on the Colorado Front Range demonstrates that ponderosa pine forest structure was historically a mixture of openings, single trees, and groups of two - five trees growing together. There were a variety of age classes within a stand and tree diameters were generally smaller than those observed in other regions.
Samples are stored in a climate-controlled facility for future study (photo by Roger Pilkington).
Tree-ring studies are used for a wide variety of purposes, including the reconstruction of past climate. In 2009, the Interior West Forest Inventory and Analysis program started a project to inventory and archive approximately 11,000 increment cores collected in most of the Interior West states during periodic inventories of the 1980s and 1990s. 

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