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Science Spotlights

Prescribed crown fire at Manning Creek, Fishlake National Forest. Photo credit: Roger Ottmar. Photo taken: June 2019
The broad consensus among fire and fuel scientists and managers is that we need to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations on many more acres to mitigate the risk and severity of wildfires. But mechanical fuel treatments are expensive! Prescribed fire is a more cost effective tool to reduce fuel loads and to restore and maintain fuel conditions to something closer to the historical norm.
The “lasso” is a statistical estimator the captures only the best, of many, remotely sensed variables to use in a model. This is one of seven statistical estimators covered in the new tutorial and R package.
Having precise estimates of our forest characteristics is important if we want to assess the status of our forests, detect change, or monitor trends. New statistical estimators enable us to improve precision by merging forest inventory data with data from a variety of remote sensing instruments, but often pose computational challenges. This new tutorial and R software package makes both old and new survey estimation tools easily accessible.
Engelmann spruce stand in a long-term seed production study on the Fraser Experimental Forest, Colorado.
In 1968, thirteen permanent research plots were established in Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir forests along an elevational gradient on the Fraser Experimental Forest. Seed traps were installed on these plots and have been sampled annually since 1968. In 2011, tree cores were sampled to examine the relationship between climate and seed production.
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...
Northern goshawk research technician standing in an example of an idealized ponderosa pine forest on the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona.
Throughout the Rocky Mountains over the last century, large ponderosa pine trees provided lumber for growing cities and towns, along with fuel and timber for the mining and railroad industries. Most of these forests are now occupied by dense young and mid-aged forests highly susceptible to being killed by bark beetles and burned by wildfires. These conditions have been exacerbated by fire suppression and urban encroachment. As a result,...
Mycorrhizal fungi attach to the roots of plants and produce fruiting bodies called sporocarps, or mushrooms.  Pines such as these ponderosa pine seedlings rely on these ectomycorrhizal fungi to provide them extra water and nutrients.  Photo by Suzanne Owe
Soil fungi are important components of the soil microbial community that influence ecosystem resilience and stability after disturbances such as fire. Ectomycorrhizal (EM) fungi increase water and nutrient uptake for their plant hosts in return for carbon. Saprotrophic fungi play an important role in nutrient cycling and are responsible for decomposing wood, plant litter, and soil organic matter. 
Hiking trails in the Arapaho-Roosevelt NF in northern Colorado and surrounded by bark beetle–caused tree mortality, Arapaho-Roosevelt NF.
This research presents synthesis of recent research on the effects of mountain pine beetle outbreaks in Colorado’s lodgepole pine forests. The work updates users, scientists, and the public on research finds on how mountain pine beetle has affected a suite of ecosystem services. 
Old-growth ponderosa pine forests in Long Valley and Fort Valley Experimental Forests provide a window into historical spatial patterns of trees and non-forested openings.
Researchers are increasingly recognizing that ponderosa pine forests naturally occur in clumps of trees with isolated single trees in a matrix of non-forested openings. Turns out that this spatial pattern is important in sustaining ecological processes such as fire spread, tree growth and regeneration, and creates biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Yet, most past studies have examined spatial patterns on small plots, which underestimates the...
Figure 1 urban_interface_mulching
Recently, several large fires have burned through masticated sites – including in Colorado (Brewer et al. 2013), Washington, and New Mexico. Burning under extreme weather conditions with strong winds, these fires have challenged the benefits of using mastication, even though mastication can provide many positive environmental effects, such as soil moisture retention and cool, moist environments for soil microbes. However, informing managers when...
Semiochemicals applied to a spruce to prevent spruce beelte attacks
The spruce beetle is the most significant mortality agent of spruce in western North America, and management options are limited. In cooperation with FHP partners, a novel combination of a beetle-produced pheromone (MCH) and compounds from a non-host (maple) tree (AKB) were shown to be repellent to spruce beetles. High-release rate MCH-AKB devices that are attached to live spruce can reduce spruce beetle attacks on individual trees and small...

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