UW News

School of Environmental and Forest Sciences


January 16, 2024

UW research helps California forest managers assess smoke hazards from prescribed burns

Forest on fire with smoke billowing, as seen from a helicopter

An international team led by researchers at the University of Washington built a framework to help land managers assess the air quality implications of land management scenarios with different levels of prescribed burning.


December 19, 2023

How will climate change affect how predators hunt prey? Two UW professors teamed up to find out

A hand wearing a glove next to a paw print in the snow

Two UW professors teamed up to study how climate change will affect predator-prey interactions in snowy landscapes. Together with a group of researchers, the two measured snow properties that led to a “danger zone,” where prey would sink but predators would not.


August 21, 2023

REBURN: A new tool to model wildfires in the Pacific Northwest and beyond

Researchers with the University of Washington and the U.S. Forest Service have developed a new tool, REBURN, that can simulate large forest landscapes and wildfire dynamics over decades or centuries under different wildfire management strategies. The model can simulate the consequences of extinguishing all wildfires regardless of size, which was done for much of the 20th century and has contributed to a rise in large and severe wildfires, or of allowing certain fires to return to uninhabited areas to help create a more “patchwork” forest structure that can help lessen fire severity. REBURN can also simulate conditions where more benign forest landscape dynamics have fully recovered in an area.


May 18, 2023

Out of the frying pan: Coyotes, bobcats move into human-inhabited areas to avoid apex predators — only to be killed by people

New research shows that in Washington state, the presence of two apex predators — wolves and cougars — does indeed help keep populations of two smaller predators in check. But by and large the apex predators were not killing and eating the smaller predators, known as mesopredators. Instead, they drove the two mesopredator species — bobcats and coyotes — into areas with higher levels of human activity. And people were finishing the job.


April 5, 2023

UW’s Phil Levin to direct first-ever US National Nature Assessment

headshot wearing blue checked shirt and glasses

Phil Levin, professor of practice in environmental and forest sciences at the University of Washington and lead scientist at The Nature Conservancy in Washington, has been appointed to direct the first-ever U.S. National Nature Assessment. The 3-year assessment will take an interdisciplinary approach to better understand the role of nature in the lives of people across the country, and how those benefits might be altered under climate change.


March 15, 2023

Cherry blossoms get new visitors’ website, are on track for early April peak bloom

The cherry blossoms at the University of Washington campus are a seasonal tradition and celebration for the entire region. This year’s colder-than-usual spring is demanding a little more patience. Mark your calendars and plan your visit for a peak bloom expected in early April.


January 31, 2023

Four UW researchers named AAAS Fellows in 2022

head shot montage

Four University of Washington researchers have been named AAAS Fellows, according to a Jan. 31 announcement by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. They are among 506 new fellows from around the world elected in 2022, who are recognized for their “scientifically and socially distinguished achievements” in science and engineering.


November 2, 2022

Permanent daylight saving time would reduce deer-vehicle collisions, study shows

University of Washington researchers found that adopting permanent daylight saving time in the United States would reduce deer-vehicle collisions and likely prevent an estimated 36,550 deer deaths, 33 human deaths, 2,054 human injuries and $1.19 billion in costs each year. Deer-vehicle collisions would decrease under permanent DST because skies would be brighter later into the evening.


October 13, 2022

Animals in national parks impacted by even just a few people

a brown bear walks by with water behind

A new University of Washington-led study has found that even in remote, rarely visited national parks, the presence of even just a few humans impacts the activity of wildlife that live there. Nearly any level of human activity in a protected area like a national park can alter the behavior of animals there.


August 11, 2022

Bird behavior influenced by human activity during COVID-19 lockdowns

a bird flaps its wings on a branch

For birds that inhabit developed areas of the Pacific Northwest, the reduction in noise and commotion from COVID-19 lockdowns may have allowed them to use a wider range of habitats in cities, a new University of Washington study has found.


May 7, 2022

Consensus approach proposed to protect human health from intentional and wild forest fires

Prescribed forest fire

All forest fire smoke is bad for people, but not all fires in forests are bad. This is the conundrum faced by experts in forest management and public health: Climate change and decades of fire suppression that have increased fuels are contributing to larger and more intense wildfires and, in order to improve forest health…


April 13, 2022

Two UW faculty named fellows of Ecological Society of America

campus sign

Two University of Washington professors have been honored by the Ecological Society of America for their knowledge and contributions to the field of ecology.


February 9, 2022

New Center for Environmental Forensic Science aims to disrupt and dismantle international illegal wildlife trade

seized ivory

Across the globe, endangered species are at risk for illegal poaching. African elephants are sought out for their ivory, rhinoceros for their singular horns, and armadillo-like pangolins for their protective, brittle scales. Add to that list valuable and environmentally sensitive trees illegally harvested throughout the world where entire ecosystems are being deforested and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing that is devastating oceans. These illicit markets, estimated at $1 trillion annually, cause enormous environmental impacts and have the potential to unleash new, deadly pathogens.


January 11, 2022

Q&A: Bringing a justice lens to wildlife management

wolf head

A team of researchers led by the University of Washington drew upon the field of environmental justice — which primarily has focused on harms to people and public health — and applied its concepts to wildlife management, considering forms of injustice that people, communities and animal groups might experience. Lead author and UW assistant professor Alex McInturff talks with UW News about this work and why it’s significant.


October 28, 2021

After California’s 3rd-largest wildfire, deer returned home while trees were ‘still smoldering’

a deer with fawn

In a rare stroke of luck, researchers from the University of Washington, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, were able to track a group of black-tailed deer during and after California’s third-largest wildfire, the 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire. The megafire, which torched more than 450,000 acres in northern California, burned across half of an established study site, making it possible to record the movements and feeding patterns of deer before, during and after the fire.


September 30, 2021

Bigleaf maple decline tied to hotter, drier summers in Washington

declining bigleaf maple tree

A new study has found that recent bigleaf maple die-off in Washington is linked to hotter, drier summers that predispose this species to decline. These conditions essentially weaken the tree’s immune system, making it easier to succumb to other stressors and diseases.


September 16, 2021

Rankings: UW among best in world for health and life sciences

building

The University of Washington is among the best universities in the world for the studies of health and life sciences, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject 2022.


August 2, 2021

New report: State of the science on western wildfires, forests and climate change

wildfire in washington's methow valley

Seeing the urgent need for change, a team of scientists from leading research universities, conservation organizations and government laboratories across the West has produced a synthesis of the scientific literature that clearly lays out the established science and strength of evidence on climate change, wildfire and forest management for seasonally dry forests. The goal is to give land managers and others across the West access to a unified resource that summarizes the best-available science so they can make decisions about how to manage their landscapes.


July 16, 2021

20 UW researchers elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences for 2021

Twenty scientists and engineers at the University of Washington are among the 38 new members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences for 2021, according to a July 15 announcement. New members were chosen for “their outstanding record of scientific and technical achievement, and their willingness to work on behalf of the Academy to bring the best available science to bear on issues within the state of Washington.”


June 29, 2021

Air pollution from wildfires impacts ability to observe birds

yellow warbler up close

Researchers from the University of Washington provide a first look at the probability of observing common birds as air pollution worsens during wildfire seasons. They found that smoke affected the ability to detect more than a third of the bird species studied in Washington state over a four-year period. Sometimes smoke made it harder to observe birds, while other species were actually easier to detect when smoke was present.


March 29, 2021

UW’s Joshua Lawler named fellow of Ecological Society of America

Joshua Lawler

Joshua Lawler, a University of Washington professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, has been named a 2021 fellow of the Ecological Society of America. Fellows are elected for life, and the honor recognizes scientists who advance or apply ecological knowledge in academics, government, nonprofits and the broader society.


March 25, 2021

Video: Tasty options as researchers tap a new forestry product

Maple syrup is being poured on a round waffle on a white plate.

Scientists from the University of Washington are testing the viability of making maple syrup in the Pacific Northwest. Long associated with Canada or Vermont, this sweet forest product that has graced many a breakfast table may be part of this region’s future.


March 17, 2021

‘Forgetting Nature’: Peter Kahn offers warning in short documentary film

The message of “Forgetting Nature,” a new documentary film featuring Peter Kahn, is short but powerful: We humans are losing our connection to the natural world, at our great peril.


January 25, 2021

Emeritus professor Robert Edmonds pens history of forestry science at the UW

A talk with Robert Edmonds, professor emeritus in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, who has written a new history of UW forestry research and education called “Saving Forest Ecosystems: A Century Plus of Research and Education at the University of Washington.”


November 24, 2020

Microbes help unlock phosphorus for plant growth

poplar trees along a river

A research team led by the University of Washington and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has shown that microbes taken from trees growing beside pristine mountain-fed streams in Western Washington could make phosphorus trapped in soils more accessible to agricultural crops. The findings were published in October in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science.


November 18, 2020

Lisa Graumlich, dean of UW College of the Environment, named president-elect of AGU

portrait

The American Geophysical Union announced that its members have elected Lisa Graumlich, dean of the UW College of the Environment, as the president-elect starting Jan. 1. After two years in this role Graumlich will begin a two-year term as president of the AGU board beginning in 2023.


November 5, 2020

New global archive logs changes in behavior of Arctic animals

moose in field

Scientists from around the world, including the University of Washington, have established the Arctic Animal Movement Archive, an online repository for data documenting the movements of animals in the Arctic and Subarctic. With this archive, scientists can share their knowledge and collaborate to ask questions about how animals are responding to a changing climate.


October 19, 2020

Early-arriving endangered Chinook salmon take the brunt of sea lion predation on the Columbia

sea lion eating a salmon

A new University of Washington and NOAA Fisheries study found that sea lions have the largest negative effect on early-arriving endangered Chinook salmon in the lower Columbia River. The results of this study will publish Oct. 18 in the Journal of Applied Ecology.


April 16, 2020

Dose of nature at home could help mental health, well-being during COVID-19

In light of stay-at-home orders, University of Washington researchers say studies show there is much to be gained from nature close to home, whether in a yard, on neighborhood walks or even indoors.


‘Hands-on’ classes online? How some instructors are adapting to a new teaching environment

A postal service box with lab materials inside

When the UW announced it was moving its spring quarter 2020 classes entirely online to combat the novel coronavirus, instructors across campus faced a new, uncharted challenge.


April 8, 2020

ArtSci Roundup: Lecture with IVA Professor Whitney Lynn, In Plain Sight Screening, Childhood Bilingualism Talk, and more

collage of various art works and portraits

During this time of uncertainty and isolation, find solace in digital opportunities to connect, share, and engage. Each week, we will share upcoming events that bring the UW, and greater community, together online.  Many of these online opportunities are streamed through Zoom. All UW faculty, staff, and students have access to Zoom Pro via UW-IT.  Earth Day…


April 1, 2020

Study synthesizes what climate change means for Northwest wildfires

bare trunks

A University of Washington study, published this winter in Fire Ecology, takes a big-picture look at what climate change could mean for wildfires in the Northwest, considering Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana.


March 18, 2020

‘Fatal attraction’: Small carnivores drawn to kill sites, then ambushed by larger kin

cougar on wildlife camera

University of Washington researchers have discovered that large predators play a key yet unexpected role in keeping smaller predators and deer in check. Their “fatal attraction” theory finds that smaller predators are drawn to the kill sites of large predators by the promise of leftover scraps, but the scavengers may be killed themselves if their larger kin return for seconds.


March 5, 2020

Visitors should avoid coming to UW campus to see cherry blossoms amid COVID-19 outbreak

blossoms up close

The University is asking people to avoid coming to campus this year to comply with Gov. Inslee’s March 11 proclamation that prohibits large gatherings of more than 250 people as our region combats the spread of COVID-19.


February 27, 2020

Thinning, prescribed burns protected forests during the massive Carlton Complex wildfire

treated forest

In the first major study following the devastating Carlton Complex fire in north central Washington, researchers from the University of Washington and U.S. Forest Service found that previous tree thinning and prescribed burns helped forests survive the fire.


February 26, 2020

Wildness in urban parks important for human well-being

beach in seattle

A new University of Washington study has found that not all forms of nature are created equal when considering benefits to people’s well-being. Experiencing wildness, specifically, is particularly important for physical and mental health.


January 28, 2020

Rethinking land conservation to protect species that will need to move with climate change

high alpine landscape in washington state

Researchers from the UW and Evergreen found that many species of animals and plants likely will need to migrate under climate change, and that conservation efforts will also need to shift to be effective.


December 4, 2019

Better wildfire and smoke predictions with new vegetation database

ponderosa pine forest

Researchers from the University of Washington and Michigan Technological University have created the first comprehensive database of all the wildfire fuels that have been measured across North America. Ultimately, it can help scientists make more informed decisions about fire and smoke situations.


October 17, 2019

Old friends and new enemies: How evolutionary history can predict insect invader impacts

Dead trees

A team led by the University of Washington has developed a way to help foresters predict which nonnative insect invasions will be problematic, and help managers decide where to allocate resources to avoid widespread tree death.


August 23, 2019

Video: Wildfires west of the Cascades: Rare, but large and severe

More than 99 percent of wildfires in the last 40 years have been east of the Cascade Crest. But evidence that suggests Western Washington also has a history of large wildfires, each burning hundreds of thousands of acres. We might not be familiar with them, because most happened centuries ago.



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