Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More 

Dams & Crayfish Genetics

In Alabama, crayfishes are being separated and genetically changed, which increases the risk of local extinction. This work is not done by a mad scientist, but by dams with their reservoirs and unnatural pools of water. A novel study published in the journal Freshwater Biology by USDA Forest Service scientists Zanethia Barnett and Susan Adams,…  More 

Pondberry Responds to Light Availability and Soil Flooding

Pondberry is endangered, but it can persist through environmental stress. It prefers partial sun but can linger in deep shade for years. It can survive long periods of soil flooding, and even flowers while it’s flooded. “All indications are that this species would benefit from active management,” says Emile Gardiner, a USDA Forest Service research…  More 

Ying Ouyang Receives Soil Science Society of America’s Highest Honor

Research hydrologist Ying Ouyang was recently named a 2019 Fellow by the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), the highest recognition bestowed by the organization. The SSSA is an international scientific society whose members are dedicated to advancing the field of soil science to sustain global soils. Each year, members nominate colleagues based on their professional…  More 

Susan Adams Receives National Rise to the Future Award

USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station aquatic ecologist Susan Adams received the 2019 Rise to the Future Jim Sedell Research Achievement Award. The award was presented during the Forest Service’s Rise to the Future (RTTF) awards reception in Washington, DC. The RTTF awards recognize outstanding individual and group achievements by natural resource professionals in the…  More 

Bachman’s Warbler

From 1975 to 1979, Paul Hamel and colleagues spent 7,000 hours walking through the Francis Marion National Forest and adjacent lands in South Carolina, playing the song of the Bachman’s Warbler and listening for the response that never came. “Eventually, my adviser said ‘this is a biology department, not a history department!’ So I expanded…  More 

Research for Mississippi and Beyond

Water defines the Mississippi Delta, an alluvial plain in northwest Mississippi. The Delta is sandwiched between the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers, and a network of levees and pumps aim to keep the land dry enough for habitation and agriculture. In 2019, however, historic flooding left fields inundated for months. USDA Forest Service scientists have served…  More 

Coastal Plain Fish Diversity and Introduced Small Wood

Coastal plain streams don’t always have swirling eddies or meandering bends. “They can look more like drainage ditches than natural streams,” says USDA Forest Service technician Ken Sterling. Agriculture, flood abatement, and residential development have all contributed to stream straightening in this region. The result? Streams incise and downcut, like a canyon. “These streams are…  More 

Vernal Crayfish Life History and Habitat Use

What to call a freshwater crustacean that resembles a small lobster? USDA Forest Service scientist Zanethia Barnett has a clever answer: “I study crayfish, but I eat crawfish.” More than half of the nation’s 357 species of crayfish — also known as crawdads, mudbugs, or yabbies — can be found in the Southeast. Crayfish break…  More 

Bottomland Hardwood Restoration – What Happens Belowground?

If something looks like a forest, does it act like a forest? U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Mac Callaham, along with several colleagues, asked that question about bottomland hardwoods in west-central Mississippi. “Back in the late 1960s, there was a soybean boom, and a lot of bottomland forests were cleared for farming,” says Callaham. However,…  More