Anthropogenic alteration of ecosystem processes confounds forest management and conservation of rare, declining species. Restoration of forest structure and fire hazard reduction are central goals of forest management policy in the western United States, but restoration priorities and treatments have become increasingly contentious. Numerous studies have documented changes in fire regimes, forest stand structure and species composition following a century of fire exclusion in dry, frequent-fire forests of the western U.S. (e.g., ponderosa pine and dry mixed-conifer). In contrast, wet mixed-conifer forests are thought to have historically burned infrequently with mixed- or high-severity fire—resulting in reduced impacts from fire exclusion and low restoration need—but data are limited. In this study we quantified the current forest habitat of the federally endangered, terrestrial Jemez Mountains salamander (Plethodon neomexicanus) and compared it to dendroecological reconstructions of historical habitat (e.g., stand structure and composition), and fire regime parameters along a gradient from upper ponderosa pine to wet mixed-conifer forests. We found that current fire-free intervals in Jemez Mountains salamander habitat (116–165 years) are significantly longer than historical intervals, even in wet mixed-conifer forests. Historical mean fire intervals ranged from 10 to 42 years along the forest gradient. Low-severity fires were historically dominant across all forest types (92 of 102 fires). Although some mixed- or highseverity fire historically occurred at 67% of the plots over the last four centuries, complete mortality within 1.0 ha plots was rare, and asynchronous within and among sites. Climate was an important driver of temporal variability in fire severity, such that mixed- and high-severity fires were associated with more extreme drought than low-severity fires. Tree density in dry conifer forests historically ranged from open (90 trees/ha) to moderately dense (400 trees/ha), but has doubled on average since fire exclusion. Infill of fire-sensitive tree species has contributed to the conversion of historically dry mixedconifer to wet mixed-conifer forest. We conclude that low-severity fire, which has been absent for over a century, was a critical ecosystem process across the forest gradient in Jemez Mountains salamander habitat, and thus is an important element of ecosystem restoration, resilience, and rare species recovery.
The Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) is a multi-disciplinary research and development center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Organizationally, FORT is within the USGS Southwest Region, although our work extends across the Nation and into several other countries. FORT research focuses on needs of the land- and water-management bureaus within the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), other Federal agencies, and those of State and non-government organizations. As a Science Center, we emphasize a multi-disciplinary science approach to provide information for resource-management decisionmaking. FORT’s vision is to maintain and continuously improve the integrated, collaborative, world-class research needed to inform effective, science-based land and resource management. Our science and technological development activities and unique capabilities support all USGS scientific Mission Areas and contribute to successful, collaborative science efforts across the USGS and DOI. We organized our report into an Executive Summary, a cross-reference table, and an appendix. The executive summary provides brief highlights of some key FORT accomplishments for each Mission Area. The table cross-references all major FY2012 and FY2013 science accomplishments with the various Mission Areas that each supports. The one-page accomplishment descriptions in the appendix are organized by USGS Mission Area and describe the many and diverse ways in which our science is applied to resource issues. As in prior years, lists of all FY2012 and FY2013 publications and other product types also are appended.
Information on black-footed ferret biology collected within the framework of ferret conservation
Once feared to be extinct, black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) were rediscovered near Meeteetse, Wyoming, in 1981, resulting in renewed conservation and research efforts for this highly endangered species. A need for information directly useful to recovery has motivated much monitoring of ferrets since that time, but field activities have enabled collection of data relevant to broader biological themes. This special feature is placed in a context of similar books and proceedings devoted to ferret biology and conservation. Articles include general observations on ferrets, modeling of potential impacts of ferrets on prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.), discussions on relationships of ferrets to prairie dog habitats at several spatial scales (from individual burrows to patches of burrow systems) and a general treatise on the status of black-footed ferret recovery.
Fort Collins Science Center FY2011 Accomplishments Report
The Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) is a multi-disciplinary research and development center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) located in Fort Collins, Colo. Organizationally, FORT is within the USGS Rocky Mountain Area, although our work extends across the Nation and into several other countries. FORT research focuses on needs of the land- and water-management bureaus within the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), other Federal agencies, and the needs of State and non-government organizations. As a Science Center, we emphasize a multi-disciplinary science approach to provide information for resource-management decisionmaking. FORT’s vision is to maintain and continuously improve the integrated, collaborative, world-class research needed to inform effective, science-based land management. Our innovative scientists and technical specialists accomplish this mission in two fundamental ways:
We build teams across USGS centers and Federal agencies.
Resource management decisions and planning processes require a broad range of biological, ecological, and economic analyses and often must consider a landscape or ecoregional perspective that involves multiple Federal and State agencies and often university and private partners. Our Center has a long history of addressing resource management and planning issues, leveraging shared data and expertise across centers and agencies. This collaborative work has been recognized through three consecutive DOI “Partners in Conservation” awards and our selection as the host site for the USGS John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis.
We provide interdisciplinary science support and Information Technology infrastructure that facilitates integrated and collaborative research.
Advanced Information Technology (IT) and data capabilities at FORT include the Resource for Advanced Modeling laboratory, high throughput and high performance computing resources, and easily accessible libraries of large geospatial datasets. Our Center is also piloting for USGS a number of cutting-edge technologies that could dramatically lower IT costs and improve performance, such as network optimization tools and virtualization. These services provide support to as many as 14 working groups per year for the Powell Center, in addition to new levels of data management and analysis for our own scientists. With an interdisciplinary science staff from several USGS science centers, we are located within the Natural Resource Research Center campus at Colorado State University, where there are more than 1,000 natural resource professionals from six Federal agencies.
Our science and technological development activities and unique capabilities support all six USGS scientific Mission Areas and contribute to successful, collaborative science efforts across the USGS and DOI. This year, we have organized our annual report into an Executive Summary with an appendix of 70 science accomplishments. These one-page accomplishment descriptions are organized by USGS Mission Area. As in prior years, lists of all FY2011 publications and other product types also are appended.
This executive summary of our annual report provides brief highlights of a few key FORT accomplishments for each Mission Area, along with a table cross-referencing all major FY11 accomplishments with the various Mission Areas each supports. I hope you will also peruse the accomplishment descriptions in Appendix 1, as they describe the many and diverse ways in which the “rubber meets the road” here at FORT.
Chapter 2: Total economic valuation of endangered species: A summary and comparison of United States and rest of the world estimates
Richardson, L., and J. Loomis
Updated Date (text):
Parent Publication Title:
Conserving and valuing ecosystem services and biodiversity: Economic, institutional and social challenges
Questions and problems that emerged during operational conservation of black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) have been addressed by a wide variety of studies. Early results from such studies often were communicated orally during meetings of recovery groups and in written form using memoranda, unpublished reports, and theses. Typically, implementation of results preceded their publication in widely distributed journals. Many of these studies eventually were published in journals, and we briefly summarize the contents of 8 volumes and special features of journals that have been dedicated to the biology of ferrets and issues in ferret recovery. This year marks the 30th anniversary of rediscovery of the black-footed ferret, and the 7 papers of the following Special Feature summarize data collected over nearly that span of time.
Fine-scale habitat use of reintroduced black-footed ferrets on prairie dog colonies in New Mexico
Chipault, J.G., D.E. Biggins, J.K. Detling, D.H. Long, and R. Reich
Black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) are among the most endangered animals in North America. Reintroductions of captive-born ferrets onto prairie dog (Cynomys spp.) colonies are crucial to the conservation of the species. In September 2007, captive-born ferrets were released on a black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colony at the Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico. Ferret kits experimentally released in areas of comparatively low and high prairie dog burrow densities were located via spotlight surveys. Some maturing ferret kits were subsequently translocated to areas of low and high burrow densities on nearby prairie dog colonies. For 2 months, fine-scale habitat use was quantified by mapping all burrow openings within a 30-m radius of each ferret location. Spatial statistics accounted for autocorrelation in the burrow densities in areas used by ferrets. It was hypothesized that ferrets would select areas of high burrow densities within colonies; however, burrow densities in areas used by ferrets were generally similar to the available burrow densities. Because ferrets used areas with burrow densities similar to densities available at the colony level and because of the potential energetic benefits for ferrets using areas with high burrow densities, releasing ferrets on colonies with high burrow densities might increase reintroduction success.
Summary of fluvial sediment collected at selected sites on the Gunnison River in Colorado and the Green and Duchesne Rivers in Utah, water years 2005–2008
The Colorado River Basin provides habitat for 14 native fish, including four endangered species protected under the Federal Endangered Species Act of 1973—Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), bonytail (Gila elegans), and humpback chub (Gila cypha). These endangered fish species once thrived in the Colorado River system, but water-resource development, including the building of numerous diversion dams and several large reservoirs, and the introduction of nonnative fish, resulted in large reductions in the numbers and range of the four species. Knowledge of sediment dynamics in river reaches important to specifc life-stages of the endangered fishes is critical to understanding the effects of flow regimes on endangered fish habitats...
Environmental enrichment affects adrenocortical stress responses in the endangered black-footed ferret
Poessel, S.A., D.E. Biggins, R.M. Santymire, T.M. Livieri, K.R. Crooks, and L. Angeloni
Right now in Florida, non-native, giant constrictor snakes—pythons, anacondas, and the boa constrictor—are being found in the wild, and two species have established breeding populations. The snakes pose a considerable resource management challenge for agencies charged with preserving native ecosystems and species. In this podcast, USGS research wildlife biologist Bob Reed discusses how scientific research can help us find ways to understand, manage, and control these introduced predator snakes.