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Climate Change


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 temperature, snow (including April 1 snow-water equivalent (SWE) and snow residence time), and stream flow.
Knowing how environments might influence the degree and location of hybridization between these species represents a potentially powerful tool for managers. To address that need, we modeled how hybridization between westslope cutthroat trout and rainbow trout is influenced by stream characteristics that favor each species. On the Cutthroat trout-rainbow trout hybridization website, we describe that model, and provide high-resolution digital maps in user-friendly formats of the predictions of different levels of hybridization across the native range of westslope cutthroat trout in the Northern Rocky Mountains, representing both current conditions and those associated with warmer stream temperatures. Our goal is to help decision-makers gauge the potential for hybridization between cutthroat trout and rainbow trout when considering management strategies for conserving cutthroat trout.
The Southern Rockies Rust Resistance Trial (SRRRT) was initiated in 2013 to verify the stability of genetic resistance to white pine blister rust identified during artificial screening tests for limber and Rocky Mountain bristlecone pines conducted in collaboration with Dorena Genetic Resource Center (Cottage Grove, OR). Over 700 seedlings were outplanted in the fall 2013 and another 700 seedlings in spring 2014. White pine blister rust is common in the forests in and around the SRRRT site providing a natural source of inoculum to the seedlings. The seedlings will be periodically assessed for signs and symptoms of white pine blister rust over the next 10 years – disease symptoms were first noted in 2016.
Forest surveys alone cannot predict species vulnerability as they cannot determine if the remaining healthy trees are at risk for disease or if they have heritable genetic resistance to support future populations. This project takes range-wide common garden (198 families) and artificial inoculation with Cronartium ribicola (causal agent of white pine blister rust) in order to better undertand host population vulnerability and sustainability.
Researchers are using existing long-term studies to answer questions about overstory and understory carbon accumulation in western larch forests.Four western larch stands were remeasured in the summer of 2015. Stand growth and carbon sequestration were evaluated by estimating the carbon pools of live trees, understory vegetation, dead woody material, and the forest floor (decomposing plant material).
Many range and mine land sites are degraded because of disturbance and overgrazing. Researchers applied biochar — made by burning woody material in the absence of oxygen — to range and mine sites and observed improved soil water holding capacity, organic matter, and carbon sequestration, as well as increased production of native forbs and grasses. This research will continue for approximately 3-5 years to determine the longer-term impacts of biochar additions on different soil textures, climatic regimes, and plant species.
Revegetation through organic amendments is increasingly essential to help promote better organic soil and rehabilitation on abandoned mining sites across the northwestern United States. RMRS scientists and their collaborators used biochar, wood chips, and biosolids alone and in combination to determine if they can be used to restore soil physical, chemical, and biological functions on abandoned mines in forests across the western United States. In addition, they are evaluating the best methods for revegetation (seeding vs. planting) so that mineral soil organic matter can be rebuilt over time.
The cumulative area of LiDAR collections across multiple ownerships in the northwestern United States has reached the point that land managers of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and other stakeholders would greatly benefit from a strategy for how to utilize LiDAR for regional aboveground biomass inventory. The need for Carbon Monitoring Systems (CMS) can be more robustly addressed by using not only available NASA satellite data products, but also commercial airborne LiDAR data collections.
There is an urgent need to develop adaptive management strategies that foster ecosystem resilience to the impact of climate change and enable forests to adapt to uncertain future conditions. This project utilizes a scientist-land manager partnership to develop, implement, and measure ecological responses in a large-scale replicated study of three adaptive management treatments strategies in the dry mixed conifer forest type.
Over one million acres will receive treatments across the Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GBLCC) to conserve greater sage-grouse habitat over the next decade. These treatments are intended to restore native sagebrush habitat by reducing encroachment of juniper, infestations of invasive weeds, and wildfire. This project will evaluate the effects of vegetation treatments on population connectivity, genetic diversity and gene flow of wildlife species across the full extent of the Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative.