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UM scientists study forests ravaged by fire

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Town Crier “Briefs from the Region” (2) – 9/30/20

The landscape of the Rocky Mountains could look very different in the future, according to scientists at the University of Montana who just released a new study that carefully examines the effect of high-severity fires on trees. “Fire-catalyzed Vegetation Shifts in Ponderosa Pine and Douglas-fir Forests of the Western United States” was published Sept. 18 and reveals that the forests in the Rocky Mountains that can support tree regeneration have significantly decreased since the 1980s. This is due to the combination of high-severity fire and climate conditions that are too hot and dry for tree regeneration. Large portions of the mountain range that are currently home to pine and Douglas fir, for example, may well only be able to support shrub ecosystems in the future.

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