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Climate Change


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.
Climate is a major driver of spatial and temporal patterns in primary productivity. Relating trends in ecosystem productivity to climate across the United States will enhance our understanding of how climate change will influence ecosystem productivity in the future and support climate change adaptation and mitigation activities.
Forest disturbance reconstructions provide a valuable record of factors leading up to change or stabilization in forest stands. Reconstructions in Colorado usually focus on fire effects, although a few have recorded beetle disturbances. Examining the evidence left by bark beetle disturbance and understanding interactions between insect disturbances and climate events may help guide management of post-disturbance forests.
Plants are a vital component of biodiversity but are facing a high rate of extinction worldwide. This research investigated plant density of a regionally rare threatened species, Packera franciscana, in order to detect current population size trends as well as establish a baseline to detect future climate change effects. Research on population stability and flowering or fruiting rates is critically important to the recovery and long-term management of P. franciscana.
This project seeks to address two key scientific questions: (1) Are emission factors for CO2, CO, CH4, NOX, PM2.5, and BC significantly dependent on either fuel moisture or fuel bed structure? and (2) Can fuel moisture and fuel bed structure serve as independent variables for empirical models that reliably predict these emission factors?
In this study, we determined the locations of wildfire-derived emissions and their aggregate impacts on Salt Lake City, Utah, a major urban center downwind of the fires. The USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station’s new Wildland Fire Emission Inventory Version 2 model was used to determine the location and timing of wildfire emissions.
Forest biomass is a promising feedstock (raw material to supply or fuel a machine or industrial process) for the production of bioenergy, biofuels, and bioproducts because it is renewable and widely available as a byproduct of forest management. However, there are many obstacles have that have prevented more widespread use of forest biomass. This project was set in place to quantify and evaluate these obstacles so that land managers can overcome them.
How is drought affecting the forests and rangelands of the United States? Dr. Karin L. Riley, Research Ecologist with the Human Dimensions program of the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, participated in a recent effort to synthesize the current science on this topic, along with 76 other scientists from federal land management agencies, universities, and other research institutions.
The Wildfire Risk Management Team is an interdisciplinary team that explores wildfire management through the lenses of risk analysis, economics, decision science, and landscape ecology to improve the scientific basis for the full range of wildfire management decisions. Primary research topics include integrated spatial risk assessment modeling and planning, econometric modeling of fire management expenditures, effectiveness of suppression resource utilization, organizational structure and managerial incentive systems, and performance measurement.
Squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) can rapidly colonize disturbed sites, is relatively fire-tolerant, and is a potential competitor with medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae) and cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum). Determining the extent to which adaptive genetic variation is related to climatic variation is needed to ensure that the proper germplasm is chosen for revegetation and restoration. This study provides (1) seed zones and seed transfer guidelines for developing adapted plant materials of squirreltail for revegetation and restoration in the Great Basin and adjacent areas and (2) guidelines for conservation of germplasm within the National Plant Germplasm System.