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Landscape ecology

Projects

The climate niche for Wyoming big sagebrush was model for contemporary and 2050 climate. Climate change is predicted to have a negative impact on this subspecies with a 39% reduction in climate niche space between now and 2050.
Innovative quantitative approaches have been developed for evaluating wildfire and prescribed fire effects on wildlife communities in several western North American national forests.
This project explored fire behavior attributes under three levels of tree mortality in a southwestern U.S. forest dominated by ponderosa pine at three stages: pre-outbreak (“green stage”), immediately post-mortality when dead needles remain on trees (“red stage”), and when needles drop to the ground (“gray stage”).
Fuel mastication is becoming the preferred method of fuel treatment in areas where using prescribed fire is an issue. While much is known about mastication effects soils, fire behavior and vegetative response, little is known about how fuel particle and fuel bed characteristics and properties change over time.
Conventional wisdom in fire management holds that forested stands containing trees that are killed by insects, disease, or fire will remain at high fire hazard for decades after the disturbance. The foliage and fine woody material that falls from the trees killed by the disturbance agents will be highly flammable and create landscapes that have high risk for abnormally severe fire, including crown fire. This assumption, however, is currently being debated for many ecosystems across the western United States.
Global surface temperatures have increased about 0.89°C during the period from 1901 to 2012. Northern Eurasia has experienced the greatest temperature increase to date and is projected to continue experiencing the largest temperature increase globally. High-latitude boreal and temperate ecosystems are particularly sensitive to climate change, and fire – a major disturbance in these ecosystems – responds rapidly to climate change.
The Air, Water and Aquatic Environments Science Program has developed a suite of internet interfaces, the Forest Service Water Erosion Prediction Project (FS WEPP), designed to allow users to quickly evaluate erosion and sediment delivery potential from forest roads.
This project will quantify the effectiveness of wildland fire as a fuel treatment in terms of its ability to limit the occurrence, size, and severity of subsequent fires. In addition, we will quantify the longevity of these effects and evaluate how extreme weather may diminish the ability of wildland fire to act as a fuel treatment.
In the effort to use genetically appropriate plant materials for restoration projects, provisional seed zones were developed as one method of pairing seed sources to restoration sites.  Provisional zones were developed through grouping similar climate parameters across broad geographic areas without regard to species specific performance or genetic information. As such, they function as a tool for identifying similar climate envelopes which may serve as an acceptable interim surrogate for species specific genecological work in pairing seed sources to restoration sites. 

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