News and Events

Cross-Site Studies Take Root across the Southern Experimental Forest Network

Most of the 19 southern experimental forests were founded in the 1930s or 1940s. Over the past five years, they have become something new: the SRS Experimental Forest Network. “Each experimental forest is a regional asset,” says Stephanie Laseter, a USDA Forest Service scientist and network co-lead. Johnny Boggs is also a co-lead.


The Southern Experimental Forest Network

The Southern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service manages 19 experimental forests that function as living, transpiring laboratories. They are scattered across 10 states, separated by hundreds of miles, and many are approaching 80 years old. Most of them are located on national forests. Five years ago, SRS began linking the 19 experimental forests into a network.


Impacts of Urbanization on U.S. Watersheds

Urbanization is inevitable with a growing population, but what consequences does this have for the water we rely on? Cheng Li, a former visiting scholar at North Carolina State University from the Guangdong Academy of Sciences, along with USDA Forest Service scientists Ge Sun, Peter Caldwell, and Erika Mack modeled the effects of urbanization on surface water across the contiguous U.S. The results were published in Water Resources Research.


Impacts of Urbanization on U.S. Watersheds

Urbanization is inevitable with a growing population, but what consequences does this have for the water we rely on? Cheng Li, a former visiting scholar at North Carolina State University from the Guangdong Academy of Sciences, along with USDA Forest Service scientists Ge Sun, Peter Caldwell, and Erika Mack modeled the effects of urbanization on surface water across the contiguous U.S. The results were published in Water Resources Research.


Climate Change, Streamflow, and Social Vulnerability: Locating Increased Risks

What happens when climate change or urbanization increases the frequency or severity of floods? How well can different downstream communities prepare for and respond to those catastrophic events? USDA Forest Service scientists and approached these questions in a new way. They developed a risk matrix that pairs the likelihood of high streamflow events – which can be an indicator of flooding – with local community capacity to bear the consequences.


Climate Change and the Future of Southern Wetlands

The Southeast hosts an impressive network of forested wetlands. These wetlands improve water quality, reduce flooding, store excess carbon, and provide important habitat for wildlife. They are also particularly vulnerable to changes in climate and land use.


Southern Forest Outlook: Synthesis of Regional Trends and Futures

The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station and Southern Region, in partnership with the Southern Group of State Foresters, is leading an update to the Southern Forest Assessment Library, with a new regional assessment called the Southern Forest Outlook, or SFO.


Water Supply from Southern State and Private Forest Lands

Forests provide the most stable and highest quality water supplies among all land uses. A report by the Southern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service quantifies the role of state and private forest lands (SPF) in providing drinking water supply across the southern United States.


Silviculture to Restore Southern Fire-Adapted Pines

Native, mature southern pine ecosystems are dwindling on the landscape, and the plants and animals that depend upon them are in trouble as well. “Living and working in Arkansas, I sometimes forget that shortleaf pine as far as the eye can see is uncommon outside of this area,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Jim Guldin.


Experimental Forest Network is Expanding

USDA Forest Service scientists, technicians, and professional support will soon be devoting more time, energy, and expertise to the Southern Experimental Forest Network. Beginning in 2015, Stephanie Laseter was tasked with initiating and developing the network, along with Jim Vose and Jim Guldin.


Managing Drought in Forest Ecosystems

More wildfire. More insects and diseases. Less predictable timber supply. Less predictable water supply. Changing wildlife habitat. Severe drought can cause all of these impacts, and more. USDA Forest Service scientists and partners have created a new resource to help land managers anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from drought.


Study Wins Water Resources Research Editor’s Choice Award

Over the last three decades, forest vegetation has begun using significantly more water, as long-term climate and streamflow data reveal. USDA Forest Service scientists Jim Vose and Dave Wear contributed to the study, which was led by Taehee Hwang, an assistant professor at the University of Indiana.


SRS Contributes to Fourth National Climate Assessment

Long hours, lots of reading, and collaborating with fellow scientists around the world is some of what goes into overseeing a chapter for the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). SRS senior research ecologist James Vose was a federal coordinating lead author and chapter lead for Chapter 6 – Forests of the NCA4. SRS senior economist Jeffrey Prestemon served as a chapter author.


The Climate Is Changing—What’s a Silviculturist To Do?

Climate change is here. In southern forests, it takes the form of novel disturbances – different frequency and severity of drought, fire, wind storms, insect outbreaks, even ice storms – or a combination of these stressors.


Sustainable Growth & the Future of Forested Watersheds

Forests provide high quality and dependable supplies of surface water. More than 19 million people in the Southeast get at least some of their drinking water from national forests, as U.S. Forest Service research revealed.

However, most forest land in the Southeast U.S. is privately owned. Such land could be converted to other uses in the future.


BioBlitz in Macon County

On May 25th, fourth graders from South Macon Elementary School in Macon County, North Carolina, went beyond the playground to tally species right in their own school grounds.


NASA Proposal Selected for Funding

Forests – and other plant communities – pull carbon dioxide gas out of the air and store it, or convert it into forms the rest of life on earth can use. “The conversion of carbon dioxide gas into other carbon-containing forms is called primary productivity,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Jim Vose.


Drought, Fire, and Forests

A special report published in the Knoxville News-Sentinel on November 20 noted that forest fires have now burned more than 119,000 acres in eight states across the Southeast. Though no lives have been lost in the fires, the smoke has sent hundreds of people from Asheville to Atlanta to emergency rooms and doctors’ offices with respiratory problems.


David Wear Wins SAF Award in Forest Science

On November 4, U.S. Forest Service scientist David Wear received the National Award in Forest Science from the Society of American Foresters (SAF). The award was presented at a special reception as part of the SAF annual conference held November 2 – 6 in Madison, Wisconsin.


Forests, Water, Climate, and Management

Across the globe, forests cover about a quarter of all land and are important sources of clean water. A new book, edited by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station scientist Devendra Amatya, examines the interactions between forests, water, climate, and management. The book, Forest Hydrology: Processes, Management and Assessment, was recently published by the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI).


Managing Forests for Water: Challenges in the Anthropocene

A special issue of the journal Forests, titled Forest Management and Water Resources in the Anthropocene, examines the interactions between forests, water, climate change, and humans. The issue was developed and edited by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists Ge Sun and Jim Vose, and covers topics such as soil moisture, wildfire, streamflow, land use, and modeling studies. The special issue includes an article Sun and Vose wrote on how emerging global threats interact with forest water resources and ecosystems.


Developing a Network of the South’s Experimental Forests

Linking the experimental forests into a network could help answer new questions, and SRS scientists at the Center for Integrated Forest Science recently organized a meeting to discuss opportunities for shared research across multiple forests. For the first time ever, 30 SRS scientists from 12 different experimental forests met to discuss these opportunities.  Along with SRS were colleagues from Northern Research Station, Forest Service National Forests (Region 8), Forest Inventory and Analysis, and the Agricultural Research Service’s Long-term Agroecosystem Research Network (LTAR).


Our Dry, Warm Future may Favor Oaks

Historically, many oak forests across the eastern U.S. experienced frequent low-intensity fires that promoted the establishment and growth of oaks. “However, fire and other disturbances have become less common,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist James Vose. “Red maple, tulip poplar, and other mesophytic, fire-sensitive, and shade-tolerant trees are increasing in many areas of the eastern U.S.”


How Drought Affects Forests and Streams

Across the U.S., forested watersheds filter surface water that drains into the rivers that supply drinking water for many of the nation’s cities. Besides providing high quality water for humans needs, forest trees regulate streamflow, mitigate flooding, and help create and maintain the water conditions that support healthy aquatic ecosystems.


Drought, Fire, and Forests

The 2015 wildfire season was the costliest on record, with about $1.71 billion spent by the Forest Service on fighting fires. During one particular week in the summer of 2015, fire-fighting cost $1.6 million per hour. Most of the fires of 2015 hit western states like drought stricken California, where fire risk remains high due to 4 years of drought that’s resulted in the deaths of millions of trees.


Conserving the South’s Forests in a Rapidly Changing Future

Ensuring the sustainability of the world’s forest ecosystems in these times of rapid environmental, economic, social, and political change presents considerable challenges. In particular, rapid and unprecedented change portends a future where many of the principles and conditions that we’ve relied on to guide future management may never exist again, rendering traditional approaches to forest conservation and management inadequate.


Carbon Accumulation by Southeastern Forests May Slow

Carbon accumulation levels in the southeastern U.S. may be slowing due to forest dynamics and land use changes, according to findings of U.S. Forest Service researchers published in the journal Scientific Reports on Friday, January 23.


Climate Change Book by Forest Service Research Named Outstanding Academic Title

The February issue of Choice magazine named Climate Change and United States Forests, a book edited by U.S. Forest Service researchers, one of the Outstanding Academic Titles of the year.