USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center

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Fire Ecology in Dynamic Ecosystems

Understanding how fire and other disturbances affect ecosystem health and resiliency is critically important for land managers and for society as a whole. Our research centers on three related areas of interest to:

  • develop a better understanding of the historical role of fire and other natural disturbances in shaping ecosystem diversity, structure, and function
  • investigate how plant communities and disturbance regimes change over time, especially due to land use, nonnative species, and climate
  • aid effective management, restoration, and conservation of ecosystems and the goods and services they provide

Although Fire Ecology is a primary focus, our research is shaped by the disciplines of Landscape Ecology, Restoration Ecology, and Conservation Biology and is applied across a variety of forest, woodland, and shrubland ecosystems in numerous North American locations. Our research projects typically encompass broad temporal and spatial scales, and we use a wide-variety of tools, including traditional vegetation sampling techniques, dendrochronology, GIS, statistical analysis, and ecosystem modeling.

Specific research topics include Disturbance History in Natural Communities, Role of Fire and Fuels in Ecological Restoration, and Modeling Disturbance and Ecosystem Change at Landscape Scales.

Principal Investigator

Shinneman, Douglas J.
Supervisory Research Fire Ecologist
Office: 208-426-5206

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