Robert E. Keane

Robert E. Keane
US Forest Service | FS · Rocky Mountain Research Station

Doctor of Philosophy

About

260
Publications
61,963
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11,209
Citations
Citations since 2017
48 Research Items
4327 Citations
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20172018201920202021202220230200400600800
20172018201920202021202220230200400600800

Publications

Publications (260)
Article
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The precipitous decline of the keystone species whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.) has resulted in dramatic changes to many high elevation ecosystems in the western U.S. and Canada. To restore these ecosystems, there is a need to establish populations of whitebark pine that will persist in the face of both natural and anthropogenic disturban...
Article
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Recent intense fire seasons in Australia, Borneo, South America, Africa, Siberia, and western North America have displaced large numbers of people, burned tens of millions of hectares, and generated societal urgency to address the wildfire problem (Bowman et al. 2020). Nearly all terrestrial ecosystems, however, burn with some degree of regularity,...
Chapter
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Wildland fuels, defined as the combustible biomass of live and dead vegetation, are foundational to fire behavior, ecological effects, and smoke modeling. Along with weather and topography, the composition, structure and condition of wildland fuels drive fire spread, consumption, heat release, plume production and smoke dispersion. To refine inputs...
Article
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Background Mountain pine beetle (MPB) is a native disturbance agent across most pine forests in the western US. Climate changes will directly and indirectly impact frequencies and severities of MPB outbreaks, which can then alter fuel characteristics and wildland fire dynamics via changes in stand structure and composition. To investigate the impor...
Article
Many ecologically important high elevation five-needle white pine (HEFNP) forests that historically dominated upper subalpine landscapes of western North America are now being impacted by mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus spp.) outbreaks, the exotic disease white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), and altered fire regimes. And more recently,...
Article
Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.) is an ecologically important subalpine and treeline forest tree of the western U.S. and Canada. It is categorized as endangered by the IUCN and by Canada under the Species at Risk Act and was recently proposed for listing in the U.S. as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Whitebark pine populations...
Chapter
Higher temperatures, lower snowpacks, drought, and extended dry periods have contributed to increased wildfire activity in recent decades. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of large fires, the cumulative area burned, and fire suppression costs and risks in many areas of the USA. Fire regimes are likely to change due to interactio...
Article
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Implementation of wildfire‐ and climate‐adaptation strategies in seasonally dry forests of western North America is impeded by numerous constraints and uncertainties. After more than a century of resource and land use change, some question the need for proactive management, particularly given novel social, ecological, and climatic conditions. To ad...
Article
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We review science‐based adaptation strategies for western North American (wNA) forests that include restoring active fire regimes and fostering resilient structure and composition of forested landscapes. As part of the review, we address common questions associated with climate adaptation and realignment treatments that run counter to a broad conse...
Article
Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) (PIAL) is a proposed threatened species that plays a keystone ecological role in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Its population response to climate change is of high interest to managers because climate-induced declines may adversely affect critical ecosystem services that this species provides. While prev...
Article
Warming‐induced mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae; MPB) outbreaks have caused extensive mortality of whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis; WBP) throughout the species’ range. In the highest mountains where WBP occur, they cross alpine treeline ecotones (ATEs) where growth forms transition from trees to shrub‐like krummholz – some of which s...
Article
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Land managers need new tools for planning novel futures due to climate change. Species distribution modeling (SDM) has been used extensively to predict future distributions of species under different climates, but their map products are often too coarse for fine-scale operational use. In this study we developed a flexible, efficient, and robust met...
Article
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Fire's growing impacts on ecosystems Fire has played a prominent role in the evolution of biodiversity and is a natural factor shaping many ecological communities. However, the incidence of fire has been exacerbated by human activity, and this is now affecting ecosystems and habitats that have never been fire prone or fire adapted. Kelly et al. rev...
Article
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This article describes some of the challenges with prescribed burning in whitebark pine forests and offers suggestions for how to mitigate whitebark pine mortality from fire.
Article
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Complex, reciprocal interactions among climate, disturbance, and vegetation dramatically alter spatial landscape patterns and influence ecosystem dynamics. As climate and disturbance regimes shift, historical analogs and past empirical studies may not be entirely appropriate as templates for future management. The need for a better understanding of...
Article
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Background Projections for the future health and abundance of whitebark pine ( Pinus albicaulis Engelm.) populations in western North America are dire. Not only has the species been declining due to the combined effects of fire exclusion policies, mountain pine beetle ( Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins 1902) outbreaks, and white pine blister rust (...
Article
Full-text available
Whitebark pine is difficult to distinguish from limber pine when seed cones are not present. This is often the case because of young stand age, growth at environmental extremes, or harvesting by vertebrate species. Developing an economical genetic identification tool that distinguishes non-cone-bearing limber from whitebark pine, therefore, could a...
Article
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Purpose of Review Climate change and associated ecological impacts have challenged many conventional, observation-based approaches for predicting ecosystem and landscape responses to natural resource management. Complex spatial ecological models provide powerful, flexible tools which managers and others can use to make inferences about management i...
Article
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Resilience has become a common goal for science-based natural resource management, particularly in the context of changing climate and disturbance regimes. Integrating varying perspectives and definitions of resilience is a complex and often unrecognized challenge to applying resilience concepts to social-ecological systems (SESs) management. Using...
Article
Continued suppression of wildfires may allow more biomass to accumulate to foster even more intense fires. Enlightened fire management involves explicitly determining concurrent levels of suppression, wildland fire use (allowing some fires to burn) and fuel treatments to manage landscapes for ecological resilience. This study used the mechanistic l...
Article
Mastication is becoming a popular wildland fuel treatment in the United States but little is known about how masticated fuels dry over time, especially as these atypical fuelbeds age. This report summarises measured drying rates of different-aged masticated fuelbeds built from material collected from sites that were treated using one of four mastic...
Article
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Wildfire in declining whitebark pine forests can be a tool for ecosystem restoration or an ecologically harmful event. This document presents a set of possible wildfire management practices for facilitating the restoration of whitebark pine across its range in Western North America. These management actions are designed to enhance whitebark pine re...
Article
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Goals of fostering ecological resilience are increasingly used to guide U.S. public land management in the context of anthropogenic climate change and increasing landscape disturbances. There are, however, few operational means of assessing the resilience of a landscape or ecosystem. We present a method to evaluate resilience using simulation model...
Article
Full-text available
Goals of fostering ecological resilience are increasingly used to guide U.S. public land management in the context of anthropogenic climate change and increasing landscape disturbances. There are, however, few operational means of assessing the resilience of a landscape or ecosystem. We present a method to evaluate resilience using simulation model...
Chapter
Full-text available
Increasing air temperature, through its influence on soil moisture, is expected to cause gradual changes in the abundance and distribution of tree, shrub, and grass species throughout the Northern Rockies, with drought tolerant species becoming more competitive. The earliest changes will be at ecotones between lifeforms (e.g., upper and lower treel...
Chapter
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Disturbances alter ecosystem, community, or population structures and change elements of the biological and/or physical environment. Climate changes can alter the timing, magnitude, frequency, and duration of disturbance events, as well as the interactions of disturbances on a landscape, and climate change may already be affecting disturbance event...
Article
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Natural resource managers face the need to develop strategies to adapt to projected future climates. Few existing climate adaptation frameworks prescribe where to place management actions to be most effective under anticipated future climate conditions. We developed an approach to spatially allocate climate adaptation actions and applied the method...
Article
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Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.) forests play a prominent role throughout high-elevation ecosystems in the northern Rocky Mountains, however, they are vanishing from the high mountain landscape due to three factors: exotic white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola Fischer) invasions, mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins...
Chapter
Full-text available
Understanding the impacts of mountain pine beetle (MPB; Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopk.) on fire behavior is important from both an ecological and land management viewpoint. However, numerous uncertainties exist in the linkages of MPB-caused tree mortality to changes in canopy and surface fuels (e.g., fuel loading, arrangement, and availability) and...
Article
Full-text available
Mastication is a wildland fuel treatment technique that is rapidly becoming the preferred method for many fire hazard reduction projects, especially in areas where reducing fuels with prescribed fire is particularly challenging. Mastication is the process of mechanically modifying the live and dead surface and canopy biomass by chopping and shreddi...
Article
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Mastication is a silvicultural technique that grinds, shreds, or chops trees or shrubs into pieces and redistributes the biomass onto the forest floor to form a layer of woody debris. Unlike other fuel treatments that remove this biomass, masticated biomass often remains on site, which increases total fuel loading and causes concern over how the ma...
Article
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Wildland fires are a function of properties of the fuels that sustain them. These fuels are themselves a function of vegetation, and share the complexity and dynamics of natural systems. Worldwide, the requirement for solutions to the threat of fire to human values has resulted in the development of systems for predicting fire behaviour. To date, r...
Article
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It is generally assumed that severe disturbances predispose damaged forests to high fire hazard by creating heavy fuel loading conditions. Of special concern is the perception that surface fuel loadings become high as recently killed trees deposit foliage and woody material on the ground and that these high fuel loadings may cause abnormally severe...
Technical Report
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A review of whitebark pine restoration methods and approaches with respect to future climates.
Article
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Context Interactions among disturbances, climate, and vegetation influence landscape patterns and ecosystem processes. Climate changes, exotic invasions, beetle outbreaks, altered fire regimes, and human activities may interact to produce landscapes that appear and function beyond historical analogs. Objectives We used the mechanistic ecosystem-fir...
Article
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ContextWildland fire intensity influences natural communities, soil properties, erosion, and sequestered carbon. Measuring effectiveness of fuel treatment for reducing area of higher intensity unplanned fire is argued to be more meaningful than determining effect on total unplanned area burned. Objectives To contrast the relative importance of fuel...
Article
Deadwood in forests influences fire intensity, stores carbon and nutrients, and provides wildlife habitat. We used a 54-year-old density management experiment in Larix occidentalis Nutt. forests to evaluate density dependence of woody detritus accumulation. Based on self-thinning theory, we expected woody detritus produced by the current stand to i...
Article
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We present landscape simulation results contrasting effects of changing climates on forest vegetation and fire regimes in Yellowstone National Park, USA, by mid-21st century. We simulated potential changes to fire dynamics and forest characteristics under three future climate projections representing a range of potential future conditions using the...
Article
Full-text available
Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) forests have been declining throughout their range in western North America from the combined effects of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) outbreaks, fire exclusion policies, and the exotic disease white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola). Projected warming and drying trends in climate may exacerb...
Article
Full-text available
There is growing consensus that spatial variability in fuel loading at scales down to 0.5m may govern fire behaviour and effects. However, there remains a lack of understanding of how fuels vary through space in wildland settings. This study quantifies surface fuel loading and its spatial variability in ponderosa pine sites before and after fuels t...
Article
Whitebark pine plays a prominent role in high elevation ecosystems of the northern Rocky Mountains. It is an important food source for many birds and mammals as well as an essential component of watershed stabilization. Whitebark pine is vanishing from the landscape due to three main factors: white pine blister rust, mountain pine beetle outbreaks,...
Article
Full-text available
Major declines of whitebark pine forests throughout western North America from the combined effects of mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) outbreaks, fire exclusion policies, and the exotic disease white pine blister rust (WPBR) have spurred many restoration actions. However, projected future warming and drying may further exacerbate the...
Article
Full-text available
Fire regimes are ultimately controlled by wildland fuel dynamics over space and time; spatial distributions of fuel influence the size, spread, and intensity of individual fires, while the temporal distribution of fuel deposition influences fire’s frequency and controls fire size. These “shifting fuel mosaics” are both a cause and a consequence of...
Article
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Climate suitability is projected to decline for many subalpine species, raising questions about managing species under a deteriorating climate. Whitebark pine (WBP) (Pinus albicaulis) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) crystallizes the challenges that natural resource managers of many high mountain ecosystems will likely face in the coming...
Article
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We use the historical presence of high-severity fire patches in mixed-conifer forests of the western United States to make several points that we hope will encourage development of a more ecologically informed view of severe wildland fire effects. First, many plant and animal species use, and have sometimes evolved to depend on, severely burned for...
Article
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Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) has the largest and most northerly distribution of any white pine (Subgenus Strobus) in North America, encompassing 18 degrees latitude and 21 degrees longitude in western mountains. Within this broad range, however, whitebark pine occurs within a narrow elevational zone, including upper subalpine and treeline fore...
Article
Fuel loading estimates from planar intersect sampling protocols for fine dead down woody surface fuels require an approximation of the mean squared diameter (d2) of 1-h (0-0.63cm), 10-h (0.63-2.54cm), and 100-h (2.54-7.62cm) timelag size classes. The objective of this study is to determine d2 in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) forests of New Mexic...
Chapter
A general description of ground and surface fuels are given as background in understanding wildland fuel science. This chapter details typical surface and ground fuel layers and then introduces a number of fuel beds and other potential fuel components that might be important in fuel management in other areas of the world.
Chapter
Wildland fuel properties vary in space and time because of many interacting ecological processes. The interaction of biophysical factors with the fuelbed is called wildland fuel ecology. Four major ecological processes—biomass production, deposition, decomposition, and disturbance—interact with climate and the physical environment to create the div...
Chapter
Many concepts used in fire management concern how fuels are interpreted, used, and manipulated in fire management. Often, these concepts have limitations that may make their use inappropriate for some circumstances. This chapter presents four common fuel concepts employed in wildland fire management and science and discusses their limitations in th...
Chapter
Biomass that is 2 m above the ground is considered canopy fuels and this chapter discusses the biophysical aspects of the forest and shrub canopies and then presents how canopy fuels are used to simulate fire behavior to identify the five canopy fuel characteristics that are needed as inputs to the fire models.
Chapter
Since the physical description and characterization of fuels are primarily for fire behavior and effects prediction, it is important to have working knowledge of fire modeling science. The important wildland fuel properties are discussed in the context of their use in fire prediction modeling.
Chapter
Fuel maps are critical tools for spatially explicit fire simulation and analysis. Many diverse techniques have been used to create spatial fuel data products including field assessment, association, remote sensing, and biophysical modeling. This chapter presents the great need for fuel maps in fire management then details how most fuel maps are cre...
Article
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Western Tasmania, Australia contains some of the highest levels of biological endemism of any temperate region in the world, including vegetation types that are conservation priorities: fire-sensitive rainforest dominated by endemic conifer species in the genus Athrotaxis; and fire-tolerant buttongrass moorlands. Current management focuses on fire...
Article
The prospect of rapidly changing climates over the next century calls for methods to predict their effects on myriad, interactive ecosystem processes. Spatially explicit models that simulate ecosystem dynamics at fine (plant, stand) to coarse (regional, global) scales are indispensable tools for meeting this challenge under a variety of possible fu...
Chapter
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Global climate varies naturally at millennial time scales, but humans, primarily through combustion of fossil fuels, have now added sufficient greenhouse gases to the atmosphere to cause rapid climate warming at a rate unprecedented in the last 10,000 years (IPCC 2007). In light of its potential adverse effects on natural, political, social, and ec...
Article
Full-text available
Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.) populations are declining nearly rangewide from a combination of factors, including mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins, 1902) outbreaks, the exotic pathogen Cronartium ribicola J.C. Fisch. 1872, which causes the disease white pine blister rust, and successional replacement due to historic...
Article
Wildland fire is a key ecosystem process that shapes the landscape of Western United States. Changes in fire regimes can therefore have profound impact on ecosystem functions and services, including carbon cycling, habitat conditions, and biodiversity. This study examined fire regime changes in the Northern Rocky Mountain region using a landscape s...
Article
Full-text available
Landscape fire succession models (LFSMs) predict spatially-explicit interactions between vegetation succession and disturbance, but these models have yet to fully integrate ungulate herbivory as a driver of their processes. We modified a complex LFSM, FireBGCv2, to include a multi-species herbivory module, GrazeBGC. The system is novel in that it e...
Book
A new era in wildland fuel sciences is now evolving in such a way that fire scientists and managers need a comprehensive understanding of fuels ecology and science to fully understand fire effects and behavior on diverse ecosystem and landscape characteristics. This is a reference book on wildland fuel science; a book that describes fuels and their...