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Invertebrates

Science Spotlights

Collecting floral scent of blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata), one of 47 plant species sampled in the community
In diverse communities, bees visit flowers of plants, forming complex webs of interactions. The structure of these webs can tell us about how communities function and guide their conservation and restoration, yet we know little about the cues that regulate these webs. We analyzed floral scent of 47 plant species and bee visitors across the growing season in a meadow community and found that floral scent is a key cue structuring bee-forb...
The riparian vegetation along the upper Gila River in southwestern New Mexico has high richness of woody plants and extremely high densities of nesting birds including the Federally endangered and threatened species
Rivers and streams of the American Southwest have been heavily altered by human activity, resulting in significant changes to disturbance regimes. Riparian vegetation in aridland floodplain systems is critically important as foraging, migrating, and breeding habitat to birds and other animal species. To conserve riparian ecosystems and organisms, understanding how plants and animals are affected by disturbance processes and multiple stressors is...
Milkweed plants are an important host species for both monarch larvae and adult butterflies.
Iconic monarch butterflies are disappearing from the landscape. They require milkweed plants to complete their life cycle. Milkweed seeds are often produced for restoration in nurseries in special beds. Our work shows that once these beds have served their purpose, milkweed taproots can be harvested, stored, and used for restoration, thus increasing the benefit of these beds.
Sheltered from wind and scorching heat, a seedling takes root in mature biological soil crust (photo by Neal Herbert, National Park Service).
Human activity has led to a global decline in biodiversity across all trophic levels, reducing the ability of ecosystems to maintain key functions. The loss of various species in an ecosystem has wide-reaching effects by reducing the numerous and often hidden species-species and species-environment interactions. These disruptions ultimately lead to changes and declines in the ecosystem’s functionality. 
National Genomics Center stream water filter setup for eDNA sample collection
The National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation pioneered development of eDNA sampling of aquatic environments at their laboratory in Missoula, MT. The Center has partnered with dozens of National Forests, as well as other state, federal, tribal, and private natural resource organizations to assist in the collection and processing of eDNA samples. Thousands of eDNA samples are collected annually and constitute a rapidly growing...
Effective conservation and management decisions for habitats require information about the distribution of multiple species but such data is expensive to obtain; this often limits data collection to just a few, high-profile species. Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling can be more sensitive, and less expensive, than traditional sampling for aquatic species, and a single sample potentially contains DNA from all species present in a waterbody. Cost-...
Cover of Exotic Brome-Grasses in Arid and Semiarid Ecosystems of the Western US – Causes, Consequences, and Management Implications
Invasive annual brome grasses are resulting in altered fire regimes and conversion of native arid and semi-arid ecosystems in the western United States to annual grass dominance. The problem is particularly acute in sagebrush shrublands where cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) has resulted in annual grass fire cycles that are placing numerous native species such as greater sage-grouse at risk and threating ecosystem services such as livestock forage,...
landscape shot of beetle killed forest
Forest restoration, resilience, and wildfire are major issues of contemporary forest management. Integral to these issues is the destruction, understanding, and management of mountain pine beetles. This is the story of 115 years of mountain pine beetles, associated organisms and the people that study them in the Black Hills. It reads much like a film-noir. This research informs forest policy and management throughout western North America.  
Monarch Butterfly on flower
Focusing on wildflowers (forbs) during restoration work in the western sagebrush ecosystem can benefit sage-grouse, pollinators, and the iconic Monarch butterfly. Can a more holistic approach be taken to maximize the effectivness of wildlife conservation? Outplanting forb seedlings in high-density islands may be a way to accelerate the pace of restoration, reduce the amount of seeds required, and provide critical linkage among remaining high-...
Image 1. A group of Arachnocoris feeding on spider trap prey.
Worldwide insect diversity is underestimated due in part to decreasing taxonomic expertise. The genus Arachnocoris represents fascinating, but poorly-studied insects that evolved to live in the dangerous ecological niche of a spiders’ web. An RMRS scientist has discovered two new species of bugs.  

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