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Habitat management

Science Spotlights

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.
Field crews walking through 15-month-old regenerating native Acacia koa in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.
Similar to the continental western United States, invasive, alien grasses in the Hawaiian Islands promote fire and may lead to alteration of forested ecosystems. We looked at how pre-fire grass cover, pre-fire tree density, and burn severity affected post-fire Acacia koa regeneration across different habitat types.
Thumbnail image of the Storymap on Partnership between LANDFIRE and FIA
Wildland fire management needs data that is both nationally consistent and locally relevant. Fifteen years ago, the LANDFIRE program was started to address these critical needs with an all-lands approach. Since the beginning, LANDFIRE has relied on Forest Inventory and Analysis data to provide comprehensive, and reliable field-based reference data and analysis support. Together, these programs now support more partners than ever.
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.
A schematic showing how TreeMap associates forest plot data with a raster map of forest plot IDs to link each raster pixel to plot information in the database.
TreeMap is a new tree-level model of U.S. forests developed to support analysis of wildfire risk to carbon. It has a range of other management applications, from inventorying wildlife habitat to modeling the impacts of fuel treatments.
Several pinyon jays in a juniper bush.
We found Pinyon Jays prefer distinct forest conditions within woodlands for specific activities. These conditions are often present in places targeted for active woodland management. This research provides land managers knowledge they can incorporate into woodland prescriptions that meet management objectives for the treatment area while also benefiting the Pinyon Jay.
A picture of a small cage with abundant blanket flowers.
A recent meta-analysis collating global results from seed predation studies found that small mammals may structure plant communities around the world, with an interesting twist – in deserts where seeds are relatively small, they suppress large-seeded plants, but in systems like tropical forests, where seed sizes are much larger, they tend to suppress relatively small seeded plant species.
An adult and juvenile spotted owl looking out from a hole in a dead, charred tree.
Whether severe fire is good or bad for spotted owls will influence how some forests are managed for fire risk. In reality, the effects of severe fire on spotted owls depends on the size of severely-burned patches, as well as their configuration and complexity. Owls actively use small patches of severely-burned forest, but they avoid larger patches and will abandon territories that are extensively affected by severe fire.
A Mexican spotted owl sits on a branch.
Habitat loss and fragmentation are the most pressing threats to biodiversity, but understanding the potential for future habitat loss under climate change and its impacts across broad landscapes is difficult. Habitat selection models and area burned models that account for complex climate-fire relationships can help predict the impacts on species like the Mexican spotted owl.