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
This spring found U.S. Forest Service scientist Joe O’Brien helping to set a prescribed fire in the Turks and Caicos, a small Caribbean island chain that’s a British Overseas Territory. O’Brien, research ecologist with the Forest Service Southern Research Station Center for Forest Disturbance Science, was there to help save a unique rockland pine habitat from disappearing.
“Inspire, Support, and Mobilize Forest and Landscape Restoration”
John Stanturf made a presentation at the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) and attended the Bonn Challenge Roundtable (March 18-21). John is participating in a collaborative project entitled “Inspire, Support, and Mobilize Forest and Landscape Restoration” between the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), funded by the German Ministry of Environment (BMU). The group of IUFRO scientists has developed a framework to demonstrate how FLR can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The scientists assembled a list of mitigation and adaptation activities relevant to FLR and evaluated 15 case studies of forest restoration from around the world for their actual or potential contribution to climate change mitigation and adaptation. The Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley was developed as the USA Case Study. Deputy Chief NFS Leslie Weldon and Chris French, Deputy Director Forest Management, NFS were at the GPFLR and Roundtable as the official US delegation.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Fires and Water: Predicting Future Wildfires in a Changing Climate
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.
Center for Forest Disturbance Science (SRS RWU 4156)
Forestry Sciences Laboratory
Athens, GA 30602
Clemson, SC 29634