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Science Spotlights

Open pine forest with grassland understory treated by fire.
Land use and fire exclusion have influenced ecosystems worldwide, resulting in alternative ecosystem states. Open forests of savannas and woodlands used to be common, with an abundance of native grasses and flowering plants in the southeastern United States. Open pine ecosystems have transitioned to closed forests, primarily comprised of broadleaf species, and loblolly and slash pine plantations.
A deer in a grassy area.
This research modeled deer densities and land classes, which substantiated that deer occurred at greater densities in deciduous forests and lower densities in agricultural and residential development.
Figure showing maps of maintain/protect/restore strategies, criterion areas, and graphs of revenue/cost/profit.
Data-driven decision making is the key to providing effective and efficient wildfire protection and sustainable use of natural resources. We prototyped a spatially explicit approach to data driven decision making to describe wildfire risk and the condition and costs associated with implementing multiple prescriptions for risk mitigation in the Blue Mountains of Oregon, USA.
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. 
A large airtanker drops retardant on the Thomas Fire
Decision-making tools can help fire managers balance complicated risk tradeoffs to make informed decisions regarding the use of firefighting resources, such as aircraft. The Aviation Use Summary (AUS) utilizes aircraft event tracking data, existing geospatial datasets, and emerging analytics to summarize incident-scale aircraft use and guide decision makers through a strategic risk management process. This information enriches the decision space...
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 flow chart showing steps in wildfire risk mitigation from risk assessment, to designing outreach, to parcel owner engaging with wildfire organization, to parcel owner pursuing mitigation, to mitigation of wildfire risk.
Two recent innovative papers demonstrate how behavioral science experiments can provide evidence about the effectiveness of wildfire education outreach efforts.
A map showing trends in the area burned across northern Eurasia. Kazakhstan shows a concentrated decline in area burned.
Grassland fires dominated the declining trend of burned areas in northern Eurasia, accounting for 93 % of the decline of the total area burned. Grassland fires in Kazakhstan contributed 47 % of the total area burned and 84% of the decline. Wetter climate and increased grazing are the principle driving forces for the decline.