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Science Spotlights

Trends in forest attributes are typically assessed using long-term forest inventories, but trends can only be assessed when inventory methods are compatible over time. This study demonstrated an appropriate method of comparing historical to current inventory data, showing that comparisons not accounting for changing inventory methods can produce misleading results about forest trends in western states.
Lubrecht Experimental Forest was a study site for this project.
Researchers with the Rocky Mountain Research Station investigated a number of fuel characteristics across major surface and canopy fuel components that comprise northern Rocky Mountain forest and range fuelbeds. They found that most fuel components have high variability that increases with fuel particle size.
Understanding trends in forest disturbance caused by fire, harvest, stress, weather, and conversion is important for many forest management decisions as well as scientific investigations. After a decade of collaborative work between the Forest Service, NASA, University of Maryland and other partners, the North American Forest Dynamics (NAFD) project has processed historic Landsat data. This effort provides a comprehensive annual, wall-to-wall...
China has significant and growing forest resources, but those resources have been a mystery to most of the world until recently. RMRS work with the Chinese National Forest Inventory has helped to document methods and conclusions of China’s efforts to understand its own forests.
We quantified and ranked invasiveness and impact for 48 exotic plant species based on surveys over 20,000 km2 of grasslands in western Montana. These data provide a valuable tool for managers to determine the relative impacts of invaders for prioritizing exotic plants for control in the bluebunch wheatgrass habitat type.
The bull trout is an ESA-listed species that relies on cold stream environments across the Northwest and is expected to decline with climate change. Resource managers from dozens of agencies are charged with maintaining bull trout in thousands of streams, but monitoring this species is difficult. Environmental DNA (eDNA) is much faster, easier, and more sensitive than traditional fish sampling methods and provides an opportunity to better...
Research conducted by RMRS scientists demonstrates how intensive sampling efforts across a large geographical scale can influence identification of taxonomic groups among the fishes of the genus Cottus in the northern Rocky Mountains. Researchers used specific sequences from mitochondrial DNA regions and phylogenetic analyses techniques as indicators of biodiversity and to identify unique species.
Predictions of future climates include higher flows in mountain streams during mid-winter; a time when salmon eggs are incubating in streambed gravels. Unique stream bathymetry data and high resolution hydrodynamic models allow us to quantitatively assess the risk of bed scour and egg nest destruction in low gradient mountain streams during a variety of flows.
Nonresponse bias in forest monitoring programs can result in under-estimation of forest attributes. This study presented a modified stratification scheme for New Mexico that compensated for nonresponse bias and produced more accurate forest inventory.