US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Megan Friggens

Megan M. Friggens

Research Ecologist
333 Broadway SE, Suite 115
New Mexico
United States

Phone: 505-724-3679
Fax: 505-724-3688
Contact Megan M. Friggens

Current Research

I am engaged in a variety of projects that model or assess ecosystem and species' response to climate change and other disturbances. I adopt existing methods or develop new processes to generate scientific information relevant to natural resource planning. Current projects involve the development and application of a new climate-fire-ecosystem vulnerability assessment tool, habitat suitability models for the Yellow-billed cuckoo in Arizona, spatially explicit landscape level vulnerabilty assessments for terrestrial and riparian systems in the Southwest, and am working with a group to model rare plant occurances in southern New Mexico. 

I also continue to engage in wildlife disease research and currently am interested in the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease among National Forests in the Western U.S. 

Friggens, M.; Loehman, R.; Thode, A.; Flatley, W.; Evans, A.; Bunn, W.; Wilcox, C.; Mueller, S.; Yocom, L.; Falk, D. 2019. User guide to the FireCLIME Vulnerability Assessment (VA) tool: A rapid and flexible system for assessing ecosystem vulnerability to climate-fire interactions. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-395. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 42 p.

Driscoll, Katelyn P.; Friggens, Megan. 2019. Assessing risk in a postfire landscape: Are currently available tools good for the local land owner? Natural Areas Journal. 39(4): 472-481.

Friggens, Megan M.; Finch, Deborah M. 2015. Implications of climate change for bird conservation in the southwestern U.S. under three alternative futures. PLoS ONE. 10(12): e0144089.

Research Interests

My research interests include landscape scale analysis of disturbance processes (fire, drought, land conversion, pathogens and parasites); climate change impacts on wildlife species; habitat change due to changing climate; wildlife disease ecology; wildlife disease as an invasive species issue; and, conservation biology.

Past Research

My previous research projects include:

  • Modeling the relationship between landscape characteristics and wildfire impacts on prehistoric artifacts and features;
  • Co-developing spatially explicit vulnerabiltiy assessments for piñon-juniper and sagebrush habitats, aquatic ecoystems and fish, and mule deer and elk;
  • Integrating habitat suitability models generated for SW wildlife species under fusure climate scenarios with predicted fire impacts to better assess future habitat availability;
  • Developing a database of climate change vulnerability assessments for aquatic systems;
  • Federal land management decision making processes for open spaces in the Southwest;
  • Vulnerability assessments for riparian species along the Rio Grande, New Mexico, and in the Sky Islands of Arizona;
  • Climate change impacts within the Western U.S.;
  • Climate mediated mechanisms of plague introduction into prairie dogs;
  • Predicting the presence and spread of zoonotic disease;
  • Estimating the effect of anthropogenic disturbance on the risk of flea-borne disease transmission;
  • Identifying the effect of fire on wildlife disease.
Friggens, Megan M.; Williams, Mary I.; Bagne, Karen E.; Wixom, Tosha T.; Cushman, Samuel A. 2018. Effects of climate change on terrestrial animals [Chapter 9]. In: Halofsky, Jessica E.; Peterson, David L.; Ho, Joanne J.; Little, Natalie, J.; Joyce, Linda A., eds. Climate change vulnerability and adaptation in the Intermountain Region [Part 2]. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-375. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 264-315.

Friggens, Megan; Raish, Carol; Finch, Deborah; McSweeney, Alice. 2015. The influence of personal belief, agency mission and city size on open space decision making processes in three southwestern cities. Urban Ecosystems. 18: 577-598.

Friggens, Megan M.; Loehman, Rachel; Holsinger, Lisa; Finch, Deborah. 2014. Vulnerability of riparian obligate species to the interactive effect of fire, climate and hydrological change. Final Report for Interagency Agreement #13-IA-11221632-006. Albuquerque, NM: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 213 p.

Friggens, Megan M.; Finch, Deborah M.; Bagne, Karen E.; Coe, Sharon J.; Hawksworth, David L. 2013. Vulnerability of species to climate change in the Southwest: terrestrial species of the Middle Rio Grande. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-306. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 191 p.

Why This Research is Important

Much of my research aims to help managers and conservationists identify successful strategies for addressing issues relating to species, habitat and ecosystem conservation under global change. Climate change affects ecosystems in unpredictable ways and is likely to increase the negative impact of invasive species and disease within natural communities. Synergistic climate-fire impacts are of particular importance within the western U.S. Managers are faced with the task of making decisions under a number of uncertainties relating to future conditions and species' responses to those conditions. I use syntheses, models, and actively engage managers to reduce this uncertainty and identify probable outcomes to help identify adaptive management strategies for conserving critical resources.


Bagne, Karen E.; Friggens, Megan M.; Coe, Sharon J.; Finch, Deborah M. 2014. The importance of assessing climate change vulnerability to address species conservation. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management. 5(2): 450-462, e1944-687X.

Friggens, M.; Bagne, K.; Finch, D.; Falk, D.; Triepke, J.; Lynch, A. 2013. Review and recommendations for climate change vulnerability assessment approaches with examples from the Southwest. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-309. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 106 p.

Friggens, Megan M.; Beier, Paul. 2010. Anthropogenic disturbance and the risk of flea-borne disease transmission. Oecologia. 164: 809-820.


  • Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, Ph.D. Forestry 2010
  • University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, M.S. Biology 2002
  • University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, B.S. Biology 1999

Professional Organizations

  • The Wildlife Society, Member (2002 - Current)
  • Ecological Society of America, Member (2000 - Current)

Awards & Recognition

  • Department of Interior, Partners in Conservation Award, 2011
    Received for contributions to "Scanning the Conservation Horizon: A guide to climate change vulnerability assessment"

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


After Fire: Landscape Toolkit for the Southwest

Wildfires, an important natural disturbance in southwestern ecosystems, can present challenges to resource managers, communities, and private la ...


Collaborative Venture Between Southern Rockies Landscape Conservation Cooperative and the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station

Successful management of natural and cultural resources needs to account for increasing stress due to climate change, wildfire, and anthropogeni ...


Scientists Quantify Climate Change Vulnerability of Wildlife in Southwestern United States Riparian Habitats

Forest Service scientists have developed a coupled approach to estimate the interactive impacts of climate change and fire on species that resid ...


Last updated on : 12/11/2020