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Science Spotlights

Mulched stands at a ponderosa pine – Douglas-fir study area, 6–9 years post-treatment.
Mulching fuels treatments have been increasingly implemented by forest managers in the western USA to reduce crown fire hazard. These treatments use heavy machinery to masticate or chip unwanted shrubs and small-diameter trees and broadcast the mulched material on the ground. Because mulching treatments are relatively novel and have no natural analog, their ecological impacts are poorly understood.  
Mountain big sagebrush. Photo by Jeanne Chambers, USDA Forest Service RMRS
Historically, the sagebrush biome was the most widespread non-forest vegetation type in temperate North America. Compared with historic conditions, current sagebrush ecosystems are reduced in extent, fragmented, degraded, and face multiple threats (Welch 2005), including altered fire regimes (USDI 2015).
This large Douglas-fir died in 2012 and is surrounded by many smaller Douglas-fir, white fir, and Southwestern white pine that recruited during fire exclusion.  Stand density in mesic mixed conifer forests increased on average 1725% during fire exclusion.
The onset of fire exclusion in western North American forests in the late 1800s began one of the largest unintended landscape ecology experiments in human history. The current ecology of these forests and the ecological impacts of returning fire to these forests is strongly influenced by the amount of forest change that has occurred during the fire-free period. Understanding how different forest types responded to fire exclusion is important for...
The global composite index of the wildfire-water risk shows spatial distribution of risk from wildfire impacts on water resources. About half of the area globally (51%) is at moderate risk (values between 20 and 40).
Freshwater resources are vital to humans and our natural environment. Water systems around the world are at risk resulting from population growth, urban development, ecosystem degradation, climate change, and over the past several years, from large catastrophic wildfires. Scientists developed the first global evaluation of wildfire risks to water security bringing us a step closer to a global database that maps key wildfire-water risk indicators...
A firefighter crew hiking out from a wildland fire burning in a pinyon-juniper woodland along the Utah-Nevada border. Photo by Dan Jimenez, U.S. Forest Service.
Escape routes are essential components of wildland firefighter safety, providing pre-defined pathways to a safety zone. Among the many factors that affect travel rates along an escape route, landscape conditions such as slope, low-lying vegetation density, and ground surface roughness are particularly influential, and can be measured using airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data.
Final resistance map depicting the combined effects of topographical roughness, slope position, land cover and human footprint on resistance to tiger gene flow in Central India.
The Bengal tiger is the world’s largest feline, which has suffered immense declines in range and population. Today, less than 10 percent of the tiger's original range is occupied with a global population of less than 7000 individuals in the wild. Understanding the factors that drive local abundance and population connectivity are critical for the conservation of this species.  
White pine blister rust on southwestern white pine
Collaborative research is quantifying adaptive variation in tree species, specifically in southwestern white pine, across the western United States. This research predicts changes in species distribution and their ability to adapt in the face of global change by combining population-wide genomic data collection, common garden manipulative experiments, pathogen resistance trials, and simulation modeling.
View of the National Forest climate change maps website.
The National Forest Climate Change Maps project was developed to meet the need of National Forest managers for information on projected climate changes at a scale relevant to decision making processes, including Forest Plans. The maps use state-of-the-art science and are available for every National Forest in the contiguous United States with relevant data coverage. Currently, the map sets include variables related to precipitation, air...
Example of a forest structure suitable for northern goshawks and producing high quality timber
Wildlife habitat and timber production are critical elements of the management of many National Forests. The Black Hills National Forest has provided a thriving timber economy for over 100 years. The forest also provides habitat for the northern goshawk, which has been severely impacted by mountain pine beetles. 
100 years ago a study was initiatied near the Fort Valley Experimental Forest in Arizona to look at how different varieties of ponderosa pines would grow in different forest/geographic areas. Researchers found that more northerly or higher elevation materials performed better.    

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