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Science Spotlights

Forested landscape of a mixed severity fire showing a mosaic burn pattern
There is a popular hypothesis in the scientific literature that ‘pyrodiversity begets biodiversity’ – that is, places with more variety in fire characteristics (e.g., severity, time-since-fire) will support more species of plants and animals. But empirical support for the hypothesis is mixed. We synthesized the literature on pyrodiversity, attempted to explain why evidence for the hypothesis is so mixed, and set out a path for clarifying this...
A screenshot of the eDNAtlas Results Map for the Western United States.
Because of its advantages relative to traditional sampling techniques, environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling is being rapidly adopted to address questions about the distribution of species in streams across the United States. The eDNAtlas provides occurrence information for over 50 species from more than 12,000 samples and assists organizations in collecting more samples for specific areas and species. 
Flowers of sticky whiteleaf manzanita, one of many plant species reviewed by FEIS scientists (photo by George W. Hartwell).
Thirty years ago, Rocky Mountain Research Station scientist William (Bill) Fischer proposed a highly innovative computer system to provide managers with information about the effects of prescribed fire. Technology has changed radically since Fischer originally envisioned a computer program to provide fire effects information electronically. The FEIS user interface now enables readers to search using many criteria, including maps, and it connects...
The swift fox is a species of conservation concern in the Great Plains (photo compliments of the National Park Service).
Increasing human populations have fueled urban development and land conversion, causing substantial loss and fragmentation of wildlife habitat. In addition, climate change is expected to drive large-scale shifts in ecological conditions and geographic shifts in vegetation types. RMRS researchers found that species’ dispersal ability plays a larger role than its landscape resistance in determining connectivity. Specific information on habitat...
Riparian habitat along the Rio Grande, New Mexico
Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists have developed a coupled approach that combines species distribution models, predictions for future fire regime, and climate change vulnerability assessments to estimate the interactive impacts of climate change and fire on species that reside within riparian habitats in the Southwest.