Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems (SRS RWU 4158)

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To provide knowledge and strategies for restoring, managing, and sustaining longleaf pine ecosystems

Initiated during the realignment of the Southern Research Station in 2007, SRS RWU- 4158 is a team of 6 scientists and support personnel whose mission is to provide knowledge and strategies for restoring, managing, and sustaining longleaf pine ecosystems in the southeastern United States. Scientists in the Unit work on two overarching research problems. They design and carry out research studies that seek to solve these problems or overcome related limitations to our knowledge of longleaf pine ecosystems. The Unit's scientists work with partners to provide knowledge and technologies needed to successfully restore and manage these ecosystems which are increasingly affected by a variety of human and natural influences in times of environmental stress and cultural and climatic change. The problem areas are as follows:

  • Providing fundamental physiological knowledge needed to understand the processes that affect longleaf pine seedling production, establishment, and growth and development.
  • Providing ecological information about population and community processes that affect restoration of longleaf pine woodlands and at risk native plant species.
  • Providing practices, strategies, and models that quantify and predict the influence of management on maintaining and restoring longleaf pine ecosystems.

Our scientists work with partners and cooperators to provide knowledge and technologies needed to successfully restore and manage these ecosystems as they are increasingly affected by a variety of human and natural influences in times of environmental stress and cultural and climatic change.

Selected News and Events

Longleaf Pine Cone Prospects for 2015 and 2016-Regional summary for U.S. Southeast available

Longleaf cones and seedlings after bumper seed year

June, 2015

Dale Brockway, research ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS), recently published his yearly summary of projected longleaf pine cone production for 2015 and 2016. The report shows that the Southeast can expect a poor longleaf pine cone crop in October 2015.

“Our estimates show the 2015 crop averaging  only 12.4 cones per tree,” says Brockway, who is stationed at the SRS Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems unit in Auburn, Alabama. “It’s not unusual for a large cone crop, such as that which occurred last year, to be followed by a much smaller crop during the  next year.”

Access the full report for 2015 and 2016.

Access the cone counting protocol


Pro-B: A Practical Management Tool for Implementing Selection Silviculture

A longleaf pine stand on the flatwoods of Goethe State Forest in north central Florida treated with single-tree selection using the Pro-B method. Photo by Dale Brockway.

May 21, 2015 on CompassLive

Pro-B, a method developed by U.S. Forest Service research, helps make uneven-aged management of longleaf pine and other forest types a practical and efficient option for landowners and managers. A field study by researchers showed that after less than three hours of training on the Pro-B (proportional basal area) method, managers were able to accurately mark stands using only a single marking pass.

Dale Brockway, research ecologist with the Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) Longleaf Pine Restoration and Management unit, worked with SRS emeritus scientist Ken Outcalt and Auburn University’s Ed Loewenstein (formerly of the Forest Service Northern Research Station) to create a technique that managers can easily use to apply uneven-aged management in the forest. Pro-B may be used to implement selection silviculture in a variety of forest types in the Southeast, elsewhere in North America, and perhaps on other continents as well.

Read the full article »

James Barnett Inducted into LSU Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries Alumni Hall of Fame

May 20, 2015 on CompassLive

On April 25, James Barnett (left, with Larry Stanley) was inducted into the 2015 Louisiana State University (LSU) Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries Alumni Hall of Fame in recognition of the nearly five decades he’s spent conducting research for the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station. The work he’s done to improve the success of reforesting major pine species of the southern United States — and more importantly, the dissemination of the practical implications of that research — has truly set Barnett above his peers.

Read the full article »

Understory Restoration in Longleaf Pine Ecosystems

Longleaf pine stand in the Croatan National Forest, North Carolina. Photo by David McAdoo, Creative Commons.

May 19, 2015 on CompassLive

Longleaf pine trees once rose to the sky on more than 90 million acres across the Southeast, towering over grasses and flowers and providing habitat for many animals that are now rare. Less than 3 million acres of these forests remain, but returning degraded ecosystems to longleaf pine forests is a priority for many managers and organizations.

U.S. Forest Service scientist Joan Walker and her colleagues developed a roadmap for restoring these forests, especially the understory plant communities. Walker, a plant ecologist at the Forest Service Southern Research Station Restoring Longleaf Pine Ecosystems unit, co-authored a study that quantified and evaluated a reference model for use in restoring southeastern U.S. longleaf pine woodland understory plant communities. The study was led by Lars Brudvig, a professor at Michigan State University, and published in an article in PLoS ONE.

Read the full article »

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.

Read the full article »

Good News for Eradicating Cogongrass in the South

Cogongrass invading forested area. Photo by Charles T. Bryson, courtesy of Bugwood.org.

March 3, 2015 on CompassLive

Over the past decade, U.S. Forest Service researchers have been working with university cooperators to find some way to slow down or stop the relentless spread of cogongrass. This last fall, Auburn University researchers reported results that demonstrate, for the first time, that patches of cogongrass can be eliminated completely within three years — showing that eradication of the invasive plant is actually possible for many land managers.

Read the full article »

Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems (RWU - 4158)

Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems
Southern Research Station
Mail:  P.O. Box 1270
Ship: 607 Reserve Street
Hot Springs, AR 71902
870-723-1623