Southern Pine Ecology & Management (RWU 4159)

Image of Pine Trees

The Southern Pine Ecology and Management Research Work Unit (SRS-4159), headquartered on the University of Arkansas campus at Monticello, Arkansas, continues a tradition of research on plants, wildlife, and soils in pine-dominated forests of the southeastern United States. Our emphasis is on mixed loblolly-shortleaf pine and pine-hardwood forests of the West Gulf Coastal Plain in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, and the shortleaf pine and pine-hardwood forests of the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Unit scientists and staff are distributed among six subunit locations: three in Arkansas (Arkansas Forestry Sciences Lab locations in Hot Springs, Monticello, and Crossett), one in Louisiana affiliated with the Alexandria Forestry Center in Pineville, one in Alabama (Alabama A&M University at Normal), and one in Texas at the Wildlife Habitat and Silviculture Lab, located on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.

Our research is concentrated in 3 problem areas (click here for complete charter).

Ecology and Silviculture of Southern Pine-dominated Forests

Our goal is to discover and develop new knowledge about the ecology of southern pine-dominated forest ecosystems and to refine the silvicultural principles and practices for these ecosystems, so that land managers can make better management decisions and take more effective action to achieve desired results on public and private forest lands in the South.

Regional, Continental, and Global Effects on Southern Pine-dominated Forests

We seek to discover and evaluate the influence of regional, continental, and global forcing factors on pine-dominated forest ecosystems in the South, and to provide land owners and managers with the tools to manage healthy, diverse, and productive southern pine ecosystems that are resilient in response to these changes. Our scientists have special expertise in forest soils and soil science, and our research unit includes leadership and participation in long-term site productivity.

Effects of Forest Management, Insect Pests,
and Climate Change on Wildlife in Southern Pine-dominated Forests

The discovery, development, and integration of knowledge about the effects of forest management, insect pests, and climate change on wildlife and wildlife habitat in southern pine-dominated ecosystems will provide managers with better tools to restore and manage wildlife populations that are healthy, diverse, and sustainable.

Research Work Unit 4159 is responsible for research and demonstration studies, science delivery, and administration of three Experimental Forests in the Southern Research Station— Crossett and Alum Creek Experimental Forests in Arkansas and the Stephen F. Austin Experimental Forest in Texas.

Selected News and Events

Outlook for Mid-South Forests: The Next 50 Years

Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. Photo by Jim Guldin.

April 23, 2015 on CompassLive

The Southern Forest Futures Project (SFFP) started in 2008 as an effort to study and understand the various forces reshaping the forests across the 13 states of the South over the next 50 years. Chartered by the U.S. Forest Service Southern Region and Southern Research Station (SRS) along with the Southern Group of State Foresters, the project examined a variety of possible futures and how they might affect forests and their many ecosystems and values.

Because of the great variations in forest ecosystems across the South, the Futures Project produced separate findings and implications by subregion, including the newly published report for the Mid-South, the westernmost of the five subregions located within Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The report breaks the Mid-South into four sections: the Ozark-Ouachita Highlands, the Cross Timbers, the High Plains, and the West Texas Basin and Range.

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Harvesting Southern Pines for Bioenergy: Potential Impacts on Soil

Loblolly pine stand treated with herbicide to control other vegetation. Photo by Jim Miller, courtesy of

November 24, 2015 on CompassLive

Soils are the foundation of the forested ecosystem, producing timber and clean water while supporting biodiversity and storing carbon. A new study led by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientist D. Andrew Scott examines how harvesting for bioenergy affects soil ecosystem services in loblolly pine plantations.

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2014 Crossett Forestry Field Day, May 16-17

Landowners will find out about the benefits of shortleaf forests of natural origin at the Crossett Forestry Field Days May 16-17. Photo by Chris Evans, courtesy of

May 14, 2014 on CompassLive

Held at the Crossett Experimental Forest near Crossett, Arkansas, the 2014 field day will provide a full program for foresters, conservationists, land owners, and policy makers on the broad range of ecosystem services provided by loblolly and shortleaf pine forests of natural origin.

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