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Science Spotlights

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The large amount of media coverage of recent massive wildfires across the world has emphasized the vulnerability of freshwater resources. Extensive hydrogeomorphic effects from a wildfire can impair the availability of watersheds to provide safe drinking water to downstream communities and high-quality water to maintain riverine ecosystem health. In this particular study researchers analyzed global wildfire-water risks.
The frequency of fire in low-elevation coniferous forests in western North America has greatly declined since the late 1800s. In many areas, this has increased tree density, increased the proportion of shade-tolerant species, reduced resource availability, and increased forest susceptibility to forest insect pests and high-severity wildfire. This study investigated how low-intensity fire affects tree defenses and whether fuel treatments impact...
decorative image of native american artifacts
Integrating phenological knowledge into natural resource stewardship is important in making land management decisions. Indigenous knowledge of seasonal change adds a broader ecological knowledge base in the context of changing and vulnerable social and ecological systems. The knowledge gained from an on-going relationship with the landscape and ecosystems therein holds potential for conservation, restoration, and adaptation. 
Effective conservation and management decisions for habitats require information about the distribution of multiple species but such data is expensive to obtain; this often limits data collection to just a few, high-profile species. Environmental DNA (eDNA) sampling can be more sensitive, and less expensive, than traditional sampling for aquatic species, and a single sample potentially contains DNA from all species present in a waterbody. Cost-...
Scientists, engineers, and economists have joined together to learn more about the link between trade and species spread around the globe. This project is called "The Non-indigenous Species World Risk Assessment and Prediction System." 
High-severity wildfires are increasing and researchers are issuing different findings regarding wildfire impacts on spotted owls (Strix occidentalis), a threatened species that nests in mature, western forests with large trees and high canopy cover. Data from different studies show mixed responses of spotted owls to fire, but suggest that the effects of high-severity wildfires could be significant throughout the range of all three subspecies....
Figure 2. Sampling the mineral soil.
Many U.S. forests contain soils with high rock content, and quantities of stored carbon and nitrogen. There is a need to calculate changes in carbon and nutrient pools in soils, but current sampling methods are not completely reliable in rocky soils. Managers and climate change researchers are using estimates of carbon pools to indicate soil productivity, alteration of biological activity, impacts from fire, or carbon storage potential. 
In the mid-1800s, Colorado’s Front Range forests were more open and two to three times less dense than they are today. Today, these forests have become far more dense and crowded with smaller trees which has inherently increased vulnerability to large wildfires, insect epidemics and disease. RMRS-GTR-373 is a guide to place-based restoration of ponderosa and dry mixed-conifer forests targeted to land managers working in the Colorado Front Range ...
Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) treatment implementation on the Pike-San Isabel National Forest, Colorado.
New novel study expands the scope of monitoring efforts in one of the first USDA Forest Service Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) landscapes, Colorado’s Front Range. Results from this study highlight both the effective aspects of restoration treatments, and the importance of initiating and continuing collaborative science-based monitoring to improve the outcomes of forest restoration efforts.  
Mulched stands at a ponderosa pine – Douglas-fir study area, 6–9 years post-treatment.
Mulching fuels treatments have been increasingly implemented by forest managers in the western USA to reduce crown fire hazard. These treatments use heavy machinery to masticate or chip unwanted shrubs and small-diameter trees and broadcast the mulched material on the ground. Because mulching treatments are relatively novel and have no natural analog, their ecological impacts are poorly understood.  

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