New Directions for Fire Ecology Research

Fire is a complicated process that affects forests in diverse ways. Current methods for predicting fire effects on forests still largely rely on past observations rather than a deep understanding of how fire interacts with a forest environment. In order to more fully understand fire’s effect on an ecosystem, wildland fire must be viewed as…  More 

Targeted Deer Removal Can Reduce Deer-Vehicle Collisions

Deer-vehicle collisions are common, dangerous, and costly examples of human-wildlife conflict in the U.S. Targeted removal (sharpshooting) of deer that linger on the side of the road has proven effective in reducing such conflict in urban areas. USDA Forest Service research wildlife biologist John Kilgo, along with collaborators, tested this strategy in a secure, wooded…  More 

Past Partial-Cutting Techniques More Beneficial Than Past Clear-Cutting

What is the most sustainable way to harvest a forest? A team led by USDA Forest Service scientists Katherine Elliott and Chelcy Miniat, along with Forest Service intern Andrea Medenblik, tries to answer this question. Data were analyzed from a long-term study looking at the biomass effects of partial-cutting versus clear-cutting in different watersheds in…  More 

After Fire, Red Oak Seedlings Resprout

Disturbance – from fire and subsistence living to widespread exploitative logging – enabled the growth of oak (Quercus) forests across the eastern U.S. These disturbances are not common today. Reduced disturbance, coupled with a long-term increase in moisture availability has been good for non-oak trees, which establish and grow under the older oak canopy –…  More 

Two New Species of Crayfish Discovered in Alabama and Mississippi

In 2011, a group of researchers traveled to southern Alabama and Mississippi in search of the Rusty Gravedigger crayfish (Lacunicambarus miltus). They wanted to refine the species’ range and hoped to find a new population west of Mobile Bay. Instead, they found a potentially undescribed species of crayfish. Years later, a team led by Mael…  More 

Hardwood-Cypress Swamps, Unlikely Fire Hazards

In parts of the southeastern U.S., one unlikely forest type has great potential for extreme fire behavior: hardwood-cypress swamps. These shallow wetlands can work with their more frequently burned neighbors, pine flatwoods, to wreak havoc by easily igniting and sustaining tremendous wildfires, thus depleting carbon storage in these forests. Hardwood-cypress swamps and pine flatwoods are…  More 

Insights from the 2016 Southern Appalachian Wildfires

Depending on their timing and location, fires can destroy or restore, with little gray area in between. In the early fall of 2016, one specific fire event in Southern Appalachia was unlike any other in recent decades, leaving behind unprecedented devastation once the fire had ceased. From this disastrous fire season comes a recent report…  More 

Satellite Mapping of Forest Disturbances Can Help When Field Efforts Are Restricted

A large number of tornadoes struck the Southeast in the spring of 2020. Ordinarily, aerial surveillance and field crews would assess forest damage after windstorms and other disturbances, but the COVID-19 pandemic has limited those operations. USDA Forest Service scientists are showing that, with recent technological advances, disturbance impacts can nonetheless be rapidly mapped at…  More 

Inventorying an ‘Industrial Flora’

Shipping containers are stacked like Legos. From all over the world, they have arrived at the Garden City Terminal, at the Port of Savannah in Georgia. About a third of the plant species growing there are also from around the world – they are non-native. Some are new to Georgia and the U.S. altogether. That’s…  More 

Closer to Understanding Enigmatic Mussel Declines

Just by existing and eating, mussels improve water quality. They are filter feeders, which means they eat small pieces of organic matter that float past them. But mussels are dying, often in streams that otherwise seem healthy. Many streams that formerly supported diverse mussel communities now are essentially defaunated. These events are enigmatic because other…  More