Ecological Research

Introduction to Ecological Research Projects

The ERI and its partners have established a number of ecological research projects primarily in Arizona, but also in New MexicoColorado, and other portions of the Intermountain West as well as in northern Mexico. Many of these projects are stand-scale (25-40 acres) restoration experiments, in which portions of a study site are treated with one or more prescriptions involving thinning of young, small-diameter trees and/or prescribed burning. Some of these experiments also involve restoration of understory species, rehabilitation of former logging roads, and monitoring the effects of wildlife on plants. Other ERI research efforts study forests at the landscape-scale (about 20 square miles) to better understand current forest processes and reconstruct past forest conditions. In addition, the ERI collaborates with other researchers on associated aspects of these ecosystems, such as wildlife, soils, nutrient flux, hydrology, and much more.

Google map thumbnail  ERI Fieldsite Map

The Long-term Ecological Assessment and Restoration Network/LEARN

Ten of the research projects described above have been designated as part of the Long-term Ecological Assessment and Restoration Network (LEARN). The network includes permanently marked, well-documented research sites where researchers have used standardized methods of data collection to facilitate long-term monitoring. The LEARN allows researchers and land managers to compare the effects of forest restoration treatments on all aspects of ecosystem dynamics across a variety of forest types from pinyon-juniper to ponderosa pine to warm-dry mixed conifer. Research on LEARN sites has been tremendously productive, and has proven influential in informing larger, landscape-scale restoration treatments across the Southwest. Visit the learn page for a list of all the publications that have resulted from research on LEARN sites, including work by both ERI and non-ERI researchers.

For ecological research publications, please visit the ERI library web site.