You are here

Landscape ecology

Science Spotlights

There is new methodology for fitting ecologically feasible “shapes” to time series of Landsat imagery for modeling, mapping, and monitoring annual forest disturbance dynamics. Through a case study of fire, harvest and bark beetle outbreak, scientists illustrate how resultant fitted values and parameters can be fed into empirical models to map disturbance causal agent and tree canopy cover changes coincident with disturbance events through time.
Photo: LEWIS WOOD BERRIESem.jpg; caption – Lewis’s Woodpecker most frequently nests in relatively open, recently burned forests with large diameter snags.
Increases in forest fires are expected with future changes in climate, allowing more opportunities for post-fire salvage logging. Forest managers are challenged with implementing post-fire management policies while concurrently meeting the requirements of existing laws and planning documents to maintain habitat for wildlife species associated with snags. Design criteria for post-fire salvage logging is needed to concurrently manage for economic...
Northern goshawk nestlings
The elusive northern goshawk, its forest habitats, and the habitats of its bird and mammal prey are significant conservation issues related to the management of forests throughout the hawk’s North American range.  The Rocky Mountain Research Station has been enumerating the population size and documenting the population ecology and demography of individual goshawks on Arizona’s Kaibab Plateau for 20 years with the objective of identifying the...
Wolverine
A new optimization technique will help conservation biologists choose the most cost-effective ways of connecting isolated populations of rare species. As the human population grows and expands its footprint, maintaining the connectivity of wildlife habitats is a challenge, but an RMRS-led team has developed tools for cost-effective solutions.
Young trees act as ladder fuel when they grow under large trees on Back Hills Experimental Forest Service.
Scientists across four experimental forests (Preist River, Black Hills, Boise Basin, and Deception Creek) worked to provide a suite of ecosystem services from removing fuels to implementing new strategies. Treatment goals were to increase the diversity of forest conditions across the landscapes and provide for a variety of ecosystem service, such as wildlife habitat, wild berries, wood for construction, and hunting opportunities.  
View of a wildfire east side of Reef Rock on Mica Mountain in the Saguaro Wilderness.
As managed wildfires become the primary tool for restoring forest in the southwestern U.S., much can be learned from the managers and the wilderness landscapes where this has been the norm since the early 1970s. This study summarizes the effects of fire managment practices on key resources, documents common challenges in implementing these practices, and provide lessons for how to address them.
Lynx kitten from a female in spruce-beetle kill
Spruce-bark beetles impacted about 480,000 acres of spruce-fir forests in southern Colorado and are spreading at the rate of 100,000 acres annually.  A central question is how to salvage for timber production insect-impacted forests in ways consistent with the management and conservation of Canada lynx, a federally-listed species.
A fire-adapted ecosystem becomes densely populated and overcrowded in the absence of periodic fire. Photo by: Andrew Larson, University of Montana
The natural role of fire has been disrupted in many regions of the western United States due to the influence of human activities, which have the potential to both exclude or promote fire, resulting in a “fire deficit” or “fire surplus”, respectively. Consequently, land managers need to better understand current departures from natural levels of fire activity, especially given the desire to maintain and restore resilient landscapes. 
View of active fire burning surface fuels in a prescribed burn block at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida on February 6, 2011. The overstory is dominated by fire-dependent longleaf pine (photo credit: Andrew T. Hudak).
Build-up of woody and herbaceous fuels increases the risk of hazardous wildfires. Using airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) scientists are examining fuel build up between wildfires to examine the relationship between surface fuels and fire energy. By integrating the repeated measures of heat flux imaged over the whole duration of a fire, the total energy released was mapped across an entire burn area. Airborne remote sensing provides...
Reseracher holds Greater Sage-Grouse while radio-tagging it
USDA Forest Service (FS) has been a leader for several decades in developing science and applications to support conservation and restoration of sagebrush ecosystems and sage-grouse populations. This spotlight describes an assessment that explains how and why understanding and supporting FS science is crucial for future management of sagebrush ecosystems.

Pages