USDA Forest Service
 Sustaining Alpine and Forest Ecosystems
ponderosa, pine, beetle, fuel reduction, Forestry
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Linda Joyce
Rocky Mountain Research Station
240 West Prospect
Fort Collins, CO 80526
Phone: 970-498-2560
 United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.USDA logo which links to the department's national site.Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.
US Forest Service, Alpine, Ecosystems

Air Quality - Increasing population levels in the western US have raised concerns about impacts of ozone and nitrogen on vegetation, lakes, and riparian systems.

Insects and Disease – Native and exotic Insect and diseases are increasing in the Rocky Mountains. These disturbances occur or accelerate as a result of other disturbances, such as fire and drought.

Wildland Fire and Fire Suppression - Managers are concerned about how fire suppression has affected forest ecology and their ability to manage these modified ecosystems.

Vegetation Management - Combined impact of disturbance—wildlife, urban expansion, insects, disease—has raised concerns about cost-efficient management.


RESEARCH MISSION: To develop and refine the knowledge and technology needed to understand, model, and thus, manage vegetation dynamics and ecosystem processes for the long-term sustainability of alpine, forest, and woodland ecosystems of the Rocky Mountains.



"A Critical Review and Analysis of the Use of Exposure- and Flux-Based Ozone Indices for Predicting Vegetation Effects"

Recently published in Atmospheric Enviornment.

Contact Bob Musselman for copies.


Air Quality Impacts on High-elevation Ecosystems – Methods to identify and quantify the effects of atmospheric deposition, particularly ozone and nitrogen, on high elevation ecosystems. This research will help managers develop monitoring systems and air quality standards to protect vegetation. Go to research page!

Atmospheric-Biospheric Interactions - Mathematical and computer modeling of the interaction between vegetation, soil and trace gases, such as carbon dioxide and ozone. This research will - 1. Help managers develop air quality standards for ozone to protect vegetation and 2. Increase our ability to track carbon storage in forests. Go to research page!

Ecology and Ecophysiology of High-elevation conifers – The ecology, genetic structure and adaptive variation of five-needle pines to help managers develop potential management options for – 1. Mitigating the impacts of an exotic blister rust on white pine ecosystems and 2. Reforestation after fires in the Center Rockies. Go to research page!

Forest Insects - Study the biology and ecology of bark beetles and seed and cone insects. Create models to estimate probabilities of infestation, extent of mortality based on stand conditions, and the contribution of insects in fuel loads. This research will help define the impact of insects for managing vegetation in western forest ecosystems. Go to research page!

Landscape Pathology, Disease Economics, and Impact Assessment - Methods and metrics to quantify the impact of diseases on commercial and non-commercial resources of forests, natural disturbances as a silvicultural tool, and the integration of pest assessment and evaluation into forest management decision support systems.  Go to research page!

Silviculture and Mensuration in the Central Rocky Mountains – Research stand dynamics, including regeneration, of aspen, spruce-fir, and ponderosa pine forests, vegetation manipulation, and primarily silviculture. This research will help managers balance production of multi-resource production and the sustainability of forested ecosystems in the central Rockies and Southwest. Go to research page!

Fire - Types and methods of fuel reduction alternatives, for treating high fuel levels, that would restore a more natural mix of ecological conditions and that would allow reintroduce fire as a management tool. Incorporate satellite imagery of disturbance into determining fire hazard and spread of wildfire. Examine the regeneration dynamics of white pines after fire and assess the geographic distribution of quantitative traits and rust resistance to provide management options for post-fire restoration of high elevation conifer ecosystems in the presence of the non-native white pine blister rust pathogen. Go to research page!

Climate Change – Assessment of the impact of climate change and climate variability on forest ecosystems and the forest economic sector so the potential of climate change impacts along with its uncertainty can be addressed in ‘least regrets’ management actions.  Go to research page!

Long-term Research Sites

Glacier Lakes Ecosystem Experiments Site – monitoring and research on atmospheric deposition and carbon dioxide dynamics in high-elevation ecosystems.  

Manitou Experimental Forest – research on the establishment and growth of pines, and the role of vegetation management in the urban-wildland interface.  

Fraser Experimental Forest – research on stand and landscape diversity or specific plant allocation and water processes that better define ecosystem function.  

Black Hills Experimental Forest – past and on-going research has expanded our understanding of the ecology of ponderosa pine and other ecosystems in the Black Hills.  

Long-term Vegetation Plots – located throughout Station’s region to quantify seed production, tree growth, and insect and disease impacts over time.  

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