Center For Forest Disturbance Science (SRS RWU 4156)

The Center for Forest Disturbance Science is a research project of the US Forest Service Southern Research Station focused on the study of disturbance processes across scales and their risk of occurrence in order to develop innovative management strategies for reducing vulnerability of ecosystems to degradation.

Selected News and Events

Fighting Earthworm Invasions with Fire

Prescribed fire could help control invasive earthworms. Photo by U.S. Forest Service, courtesy of

“Earthworms can fundamentally change the soils they inhabit,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Mac Callaham. “They can have such significant effects that they’re often called ecosystem engineers.” The Asian jumping worm (Amynthas agrestis) is one such earthworm. Like many worms, it eats the leaves, twigs, needles, and bark that fall to the forest floor. However, the nonnative Asian jumping worm is unusually voracious and highly invasive in the U.S.

Read the full article here.

posted April 21, 2015 on CompassLive

Crash and Burn: How Tornado Damage Affects Fire Behavior

Aerial view of simulated tornado damage at the Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge near Round Oak, Georgia. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.

Tornadoes and fires are powerful natural disturbances that can kill trees and cause long lasting changes in community composition. One of the most obvious interactions between wind damage and fire is that fallen trees become fuel, and can increase the likelihood or intensity of fire. “The impacts of simultaneous wind and fire disturbances are poorly understood,” says Joseph O’Brien, a research ecologist at the Southern Research Station Center for Forest Disturbance Science. O’Brien and his colleagues recently studied interactions between wind damage and fire behavior. The study was led by Jeffery Cannon of the University of Georgia, and was recently published in Forest Ecology and Management.

Read the full article here.

posted December 11, 2014 on CompassLive

Guide to Prescribed Fire in Southern Ecosystems

Photo of prescribed fire

Prescribed burning is FIRE “applied in a skillful manner, under exacting weather conditions, in a definite place, to achieve specific results.”

Printed on the inside cover of the Introduction to Prescribed Fire in Southern Ecosystems, the sentence above sets the tone for the revised guide developed by Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists Tom Waldrop and Scott Goodrick and published last year.

Read the full article here.

posted September 11, 2014 on CompassLive

Interrupting an Invasional Meltdown

Southeastern forest infested with Chinese privet. Photo by David Moorhead, courtesy of

Earthworms have been described as “ecosystem engineers” because they can transform soil environments in ways – physical, chemical, and biological – that in turn lead to aboveground ecological changes. Most of the 8,000 species of the world’s earthworms stay in areas where they evolved, some occupying very narrow niches, but about 120 “cosmopolitan” or “peregrine” species have spread throughout the world, some invading and displacing native species.

Read the full article here.

posted July 17, 2014 on CompassLive

Fires and Water: Predicting Future Wildfires in a Changing Climate

The Natural Inquirer

Drs. John Stanturf and Scott Goodrick provided the segment, “Fire and Water: Predicting Future Wildfires in a Changing Climate,” in the newest Natural Inquirer, Natural IQ. The Natural Inquirer is a middle school science education journal! Scientists report their research in journals, which enable scientists to share information with one another. This journal, The Natural Inquirer, was created so that scientists can share their research with middle school students. Each article tells about scientific research conducted by scientists in the USDA Forest Service.

Read the full article here.

posted March 17, 2014 by Shela Mou

Infrared Thermography Data Collection of Fire Behavior

posted March 17, 2014 by Shela Mou