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.

News and Events

Into the Rhizosphere: Soil Fungi and Carbon Dynamics

Many tree species rely on mycorrhizal fungi to help them get water and nutrients. The relationship between trees and fungi also affects carbon dynamics in the soil. Photo by Melanie Taylor, U.S. Forest Service.

Underneath the Earth’s surface, water, nutrients, and chemical signals are shuttled through a sprawling network between tree roots and soil fungi. “Many forest trees depend on their associated soil fungi for nutrients, as the fungi are better at absorbing nitrogen, phosphorous, and other nutrients,” says U.S. Forest Service ecologist Melanie Taylor. “The trees return the favor by sharing their sugars with the fungi.”

Read the full article here.

Earthworms, Millipedes and Soil Carbon in the Eastern U.S.

Scientists look for earthworms, millipedes, and other soil macroinvertebrates in the thick layer of partially decomposed leaf litter at the soil surface. The photo was taken in the Bartlett Experimental Forest, New Hampshire, where no invasive earthworms were found. Photo by Evelyn Wenk, U.S. Forest Service.

Ubiquitous in the southeastern U.S., native earthworms are absent from the northern part of the country. It wasn’t always so, but tens of thousands of years ago glaciers crept across the land, and earthworms below them froze to death. Because earthworms are slow travelers, they have not naturally recolonized the areas where glaciers were present.

Read the full article here.

The Guide to Prescribed Fire in Southern Ecosystems

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 sets the tone for the revised guide developed by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists Tom Waldrop and Scott Goodrick and published by SRS in 2012.

Read the full article here.

June 23, 2016 on CompassLive

Studying Woody Biomass for Energy Across the U.S.

Non-traditional equipment is tested for harvesting small trees as an energy crop. The red attachment is a sheer felling head, and allows the skidsteer to accumulate several small stems at a time. Photo by Dana Mitchell, U.S. Forest Service.

Five U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists – John Stanturf, Emile Gardiner, Leslie Groom, Dana Mitchell and James Perdue – recently contributed to four review articles that were part of a special issue of the journal BioEnergy Research. SRS researchers collaborated on the journal articles with scientists and engineers from a number of universities and other agencies, including the Forest Service Northern Research Station, Pacific Northwest Research Station, and Forest Products Laboratory, as well as the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Read the full article here.

June 23, 2016 on CompassLive

The Future of Fire in the South

Prescribed fire in Coastal Plain flatwoods. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.

In the U.S., most of the focus is on the catastrophic fires that regularly sweep across the western states, but wildfires actually occur more frequently in the Southeast, where rapid vegetation growth and fuel accumulation combine with frequent ignitions from lightning and humans. The South leads the nation in annual occurrences of wildfire, averaging approximately 45,000 wildfires per year. Continued population growth in the South increases the potential threat that wildfires pose to life and property. In addition, forestry and forestry related-industry represent a significant portion of the region’s economy, making each wildfire a potential loss to a local economy.

Read the full article here.

April 14, 2016 on CompassLive

21st Century Fire Ecology in the South

The infrared thermography platform developed by Forest Service researchers consists of a thermal imagery system combined with a pan-tilt system that allows high resolution images to be taken from directly over study plots. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.

U.S. Forest Service researchers are using an array of high technologies — high resolution infrared thermography, LiDAR, and photogrammetry — to reach a new level of understanding of the interactions among fuels, fire, and plant diversity that underlie the successful use of prescribed fire in longleaf pine ecosystems.

Read the full article here.

March 1, 2016 on CompassLive

Faces of Innovation: Dexter Strother

Dexter Strother digging a fire line. Photo by U.S. Forest Service.

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Dexter Strother is an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station's (SRS) Center for Forest Disturbance Science located in Athens, Georgia. Dexter is a young man on a mission who has accomplished a lot in his short career. He has worked for the Forest Service since 2007 and although it is not the career path he initially chose, things have worked out better than he ever thought possible.

Read the full article here.

January 27, 2016 on CompassLive


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Center for Forest Disturbance Science (SRS RWU 4156)

University of Georgia
Forestry Sciences Laboratory
320 Green Street
Athens, GA 30602

Clemson University
233 Lehotsky Hall
Clemson, SC 29634