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Wildlife and Terrestrial Ecosystems


Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in Support of Front Range National Forests and Colorado National Grasslands for Forest Plan Revision, Plan Amendments, and Project-Level Planning.
RMRS scientists have teamed up with the Dixie National Forest (DNF) to develop an environmental DNA (eDNA) assay for boreal toads. Because toads do not persistently inhabit wetlands, determinations of when, where, and how to sample are critical for the development of protocols based on eDNA.
The Lassen and Modoc National Forests intend to update their Forest Plans, guided by the 2012 Planning Rule. This requires public and tribal input throughout the process and embraces the fact that ecological, social, and economic objectives are interrelated. Because ecological, social, and economic conditions have changed since the original forest plans were written and new science is available, preparing a science synthesis, guided by input from the public, tribes, and forest staffs, is the first step in a multi-step process that eventually leads to revised forest plans.
The website provides: 1) A large list of supporting science behind eDNA sampling. 2) The recommended field protocol for eDNA sampling and the equipment loan program administered by the NGC. 3) A systematically-spaced sampling grid for all flowing waters of the U.S. in a downloadable format that includes unique database identifiers and geographic coordinates for all sampling sites. Available for download in an Geodatabase or available by ArcGIS Online map. This sampling grid can be used to determine your field collection sites to contribute. 4) The lab results of eDNA sampling at those sites where project partners have agreed to share data.
Mesocarnivores are species with diets consisting mainly of small prey and supplemented with fruits and/or fungi. RMRS scientists are partnering with the Bridger-Teton National Forest (BTNF) and other Forest Service regions to create a detailed model of rare mesocarnivores across multiple regions. This project will primarily survey for highly elusive species such as Canada lynx, fishers, and wolverines within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystems.
The Rocky Mountain Research Station is leading the effort to examine fire effects on populations and habitats of wildlife in dry mixed conifer forests in eight states across the western United States, including locations on National Forests, National Parks, and state and private lands. The goal of the Birds and Burns Network is to understand the ecological consequences of wildland fire, bark beetle disturbance, and forest management for wildlife in dry mixed conifer forests.
The northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) is an apex predator in most forests in the United States and Canada. Natural resource managers need information on how 3-dimensional forest structure impacts habitat quality for northern goshawk. Scientists with the Rocky Mountain Research Station are addressing this need by combining 21 years of demographic research with recently acquired high-resolution LiDAR data.
Forest composition and structure strongly influence goshawk habitat selection and hunting behavior, prey abundance, and goshawk reproduction and survival. Research by the Rocky Mountain Research Station is providing insights into how to disperse and sustain habitats of plants and animals in the goshawk food web in large landscapes.
Land managers require high-quality information on species and habitats at risk to develop effective management strategies. In the absence of information on these species and their habitats, agencies frequently err on the side of the species and make conservative, and often unnecessary, decisions relative to habitat protection. Over 20 years of research by scientists with the Rocky Mountain Research Station are helping address these information needs.
Snags (standing dead trees) and logs are important components of forest landscapes. RMRS scientists established a series of fixed plots in 1997 for monitoring snag populations. This research has direct ramifications for 11 national forests throughout the Southwestern Region, as well as for our overall understanding of the ecology of coarse woody debris and effects of climate change on forest structure and composition.