GSDUpdate: Year in Review: Spotlight on 2013 Research by the Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems Science Program (February 2014): we take a look back at selected studies of the Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems Science Program (GSD) that depict its strengths and focus areas. Significant results of recent research and science delivery by GSD scientists are highlighted.
GSDUpdate: Strategies for Understanding and Controlling Species Invasions (October 2013): Invasive species are significant environmental and economic threats to our Nation’s and the world’s ecosystems and natural resources. The October 2013 issue of the GSDUpdate newsletter illustrates some of the work that scientists at the Rocky Mountain Research Station do to address the Forest Service vision for preventing and reducing impacts of invasive plant species.
GSDUpdate: Ushering in a New Age of Genetics to Restore Lands and Conserve Species (May 2013): Plant genetic information provides critical knowledge necessary to mitigate the impacts of climate change through ecological restoration. The first step in restoration is recognizing and delineating genetic boundaries at different taxonomic and spatial hierarchies (e.g., species, subspecies and populations). The second step is an assessment of the genetic diversity found within and among populations of a species. “For many of the plants that occupy western North American, little population genetic information is available,” says RMRS Director Sam Foster, “which can lead to imperfect matches of plants to environments.” These data provide guidance on the health and evolutionary potential of species by understanding the characteristics of their populations, fundamental units of evolution.
GSDUpdate: Year in Review: Spotlight on 2012 Research (January 2013): We look back at selected studies of the Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystem Science Program (GSD) that depict its strengths and focus areas. Significant results of recent research and science applications by GSD scientists are highlighted. We identify where program research lines up with the strategic priorities of the USDA Forest Service and the Rocky Mountain Research Station. In particular, we spotlight accomplishments in understanding and controlling invasive plant species; assessing changes in ecosystems and landscapes caused by disturbances and stressors such as fire, climate change and their interactions; evaluating methods to monitor and support rare native species and biodiversity; and developing approaches for restoring ecosystems and landscapes to improve their resiliency.
GSDUpdate: It Works Both Ways: How Scientists and Managers Join Forces to Conserve Today’s Natural Resources (August 2012): Helping managers to promote sustainability on the Nation’s forests and grasslands has been an overarching goal of Forest Service R&D. Major advances in resource management have been made with the help of science, from increasing yields of commodities like timber and cattle to providing services such as camping and clean water. But what steps should be taken to protect the public’s resources? Some traditional applications of science in management are the development of best management practices to balance resource utilization with ecological function and support for decisions made in environmental assessments.
GSDUpdate: All Together Now: Collaboration in Research and Stewardship for Our 21st Century Lands (May 2012): Sometimes it feels as though problems as large as those affecting our public lands are insurmountable. But through collaborative consumption, we’ve learned to crowdsource financing, share digital files, create software, establish lending libraries for hammers, rakes, tractors and even rent spare bedrooms to travelers. The new mindset has opened up the ways we operate to manage our natural resources, through collaborative studies, stewardship and conservation.
GSDUpdate: The West In Transition – Costs and Unexpected Benefits of Disrupting Ecosystems (February 2012): For centuries, the resilience of western ecosystems kept pace with changes in climate, native species and peoples, and other natural stressors. With the arrival of European settlers, however, the dynamics began to change. Continuing new knowledge is needed to sustain healthy ecosystems as they undergo rapid changes to meet human needs. Scientists at USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystem Research Program are investigating both natural and human-made stressors, and their results could help conserve native species and essential Western ecosystems.
GSDUpdate: Restoration on the Range: Healing America’s Iconic Landscapes (November 2011): Western rangelands provide the wide-open spaces that are integral to the identity of the American West. Seen as the backdrop to countless western films, these landscapes provide sustenance to the region’s people and its iconic flora and fauna, such as sagebrush, cactus, antelope and roadrunners. But native rangelands have disappeared at an alarming rate over the past century. At least 272 million acres of rangelands that greeted early European settlers have vanished, converted to croplands, forests, urban developments, industrial sites, roads and reservoirs.
Invasive species are the focus of the September 2011 issue of GSDUpdate: What Are Invasive Species? And Do We Really Need to Worry About Them? An invasive species is any species – non-native or native to a region – that could cause economic or ecological harm to an area. Invasives can be weeds, shrubs and trees, insects, mollusks, vertebrates and even microorganisms and pathogens such as exotic bacteria, fungi and viruses. Are invasive species really that big of a problem? Yes.
The July 2011 inaugural issue of GSDUpdate: Checking the Range for Signs of Climate Change In the Past, Present and Future, a research review of the Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems Program, focuses on the efforts toward understanding the role of climate in shaping the environment.