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Find out more about the Land Management Research Program through our publications.

The U.S. Geological Survey Landscape Science Strategy 2020-2030 gives an in-depth explanation of the focus and vision for USGS landscape science.

Filter Total Items: 247

Forecasting natural regeneration of sagebrush after wildfires using population models and spatial matching

ContextAddressing ecosystem degradation in the Anthropocene will require ecological restoration across large spatial extents. Identifying areas where natural regeneration will occur without direct resource investment will improve scalability of restoration actions.ObjectivesAn ecoregion in need of large scale restoration is the Great Basin of the Western US, where increasingly large and frequent w
Andrii Zaiats, Megan E Cattau, David Pilliod, Liu Rongsong, Juan M. Requena-Mullor, Trevor Caughlin

Symbiotic nitrogen fixation does not stimulate soil phosphatase activity under temperate and tropical trees

Symbiotic nitrogen (N)-fixing plants can enrich ecosystems with N, which can alter the cycling and demand for other nutrients. Researchers have hypothesized that fixed N could be used by plants and soil microbes to produce extracellular phosphatase enzymes, which release P from organic matter. Consistent with this speculation, the presence of N-fixing plants is often associated with high phosphata
Emily Jager, Andrew Quebbeman, Amelia A. Wolf, Steven Perakis, Jennifer L. Funk, Duncan N.L. Menge

Experimental manipulation of soil-surface albedo alters phenology and growth of Bromus tectorum (cheatgrass)

PurposeThe sensitivity of wildland plants to temperature can be directly measured using experimental manipulations of temperature in situ. We show that soil surface temperature and plant density (per square meter) have a significant impact on the germination, growth, and phenology of Bromus tectorum L., cheatgrass, a short-statured invasive winter-annual grass, and assess a new experimental temper
Toby M. Maxwell, Matthew Germino, Seth Romero, Lauren M. Porensky, Dana M. Blumenthal, Cynthia S. Brown, Peter B. Adler

Effects of structure and volcanic stratigraphy on groundwater and surface water flow: Hat Creek basin, California, USA

Hydrogeologic systems in the southern Cascade Range in California (USA) develop in volcanic rocks where morphology, stratigraphy, extensional structures, and attendant basin geometry play a central role in groundwater flow paths, groundwater/surface-water interactions, and spring discharge locations. High-volume springs (greater than 3 m3/s) flow from basin-filling (
Marina Francesca Marcelli, Erick R. Burns, L. J. Patrick Muffler, Andrew J Meigs, Jennifer A. Curtis, Christian E. Torgersen

Spatial models can improve the experimental design of field-based transplant gardens by preventing bias due to neighborhood crowding

Field-based transplant gardens, including common and reciprocal garden experiments, are a powerful tool for studying genetic variation and gene-by-environment interactions. These experiments assume that individuals within the garden represent independent replicates growing in a homogenous environment. Plant neighborhood interactions are pervasive across plant populations and could violate assumpti
Andrii Zaiats, Juan M. Requena-Mullor, Matthew Germino, Jennifer S. Forbey, Bryce A. Richardson, T. Trevor Caughlin

Extent, patterns, and drivers of hypoxia in the world's streams and rivers

Hypoxia in coastal waters and lakes is widely recognized as a detrimental environmental issue, yet we lack a comparable understanding of hypoxia in rivers. We investigated controls on hypoxia using 118 million paired observations of dissolved oxygen (DO) concentration and water temperature in over 125,000 locations in rivers from 93 countries. We found hypoxia (DO 
Joanna R Blaszczak, Lauren E Koenig, Francine H. Mejia, Alice M. Carter, Lluis Gómez-Gener, Christoper L Dutton, Nancy B. Grimm, Judson Harvey, Ashley M. Helton, Matthew J. Cohen

Future direction of fuels management in sagebrush rangelands

Sagebrush ecosystems in the United States have been declining since EuroAmerican settlement, largely due to agricultural and urban development, invasive species, and altered fire regimes, resulting in loss of biodiversity and wildlife habitat. To combat continued conversion to undesirable ecological states and loss of habitat to invasive species fueled by frequent fire, a variety of fuel treatment
Douglas J. Shinneman, Eva Strand, Mike Pellant, John T. Abatzoglou, Mark W. Brunson, Nancy Glenn, Julie A. Heinrichs, Mojtaba Sadegh, Nicole Vaillant

Exploring the role of cryptic nitrogen fixers in terrestrial ecosystems: A frontier in nitrogen cycling research

Biological nitrogen fixation represents the largest natural flux of new nitrogen (N) into terrestrial ecosystems, providing a critical N source to support net primary productivity of both natural and agricultural systems. When they are common, symbiotic associations between plants and bacteria can add more than 100 kg N ha−1 y−1 to ecosystems. Yet, these associations are uncommon in many terrestri
Cory Cleveland, Carla R. G. Reis, Steven Perakis, Katherine A Dynarski, Sarah Batterman, Timothy Crews, Maga Gei, Michael Gundale, Duncan Menge, Mark Peoples, Sasha C. Reed, Verity Salmon, Fiona M. Soper, Benton Taylor, Monica Turner, Nina Wurzburger

Plant community trajectories following livestock exclusion for conservation vary and hinge on initial invasion and soil-biocrust conditions in shrub steppe

Adjustments or complete withdrawal of livestock grazing are among the most common conservation actions in semiarid uplands, but outcomes can vary considerably with ecological context. Invasion by exotic annual grasses and the excessive wildfire they promote are increasing threats to semiarid shrub-steppe, and plant-community response to livestock exclusion in these areas may be complicated by the
Matthew J. Germino, Chad Raymond Kluender, Christopher R. Anthony

Post-fire seed dispersal of a wind-dispersed shrub declined with distance to seed source, yet had high levels of unexplained variation

Plant-population recovery across large disturbance areas is often seed-limited. An understanding of seed dispersal patterns is fundamental for determining natural-regeneration potential. However, forecasting seed dispersal rates across heterogeneous landscapes remains a challenge. Our objectives were to determine (i) the landscape patterning of post-disturbance seed dispersal, and underlying sourc
Cara Applestein, Trevor Caughlin, Matthew Germino

Modeling of fire spread in sagebrush steppe using FARSITE: An approach to improving input data and simulation accuracy

Background: Model simulations of wildfire spread and assessments of their accuracy are needed for understanding and managing altered fire regimes in semiarid regions. The accuracy of wildfire spread simulations can be evaluated from post hoc comparisons of simulated and actual wildfire perimeters, but this requires information on pre-fire vegetation fuels that is typically not available. We assess
Samuel J. Price, Matthew Germino

The effects of cheatgrass invasion on US Great Basin carbon storage depend on interactions between plant community composition, precipitation seasonality, and soil climate regime

Annual-grass invasions are transforming desert ecosystems in ways that affect ecosystem carbon (C) balance, but previous studies do not agree on the pattern, magnitude and direction of changes. A recent meta-analysis of 41 articles and 386 sites concludes that invasion by annual grasses such as cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L) reduces C in biomass across the Great Basin (Nagy et al., 2021). Reanalys
Toby M Maxwell, Matthew J. Germino