Assessing the Health of U.S. Forests

Forests are complex ecosystems. They are constantly changing as a result of tree growth, variations in weather and climate, and disturbances from fire, pathogens, and other stressors. The USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program tracks these ongoing changes — every year, across the nation — as a forest health check up. The 2018…  More 

Coastal Forests Face Rising Sea Levels, Increased Salinity

Ghost forests aren’t some spooky legend. They’re patches of dead and dying trees that haunt the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia where sea levels are rising and land is sinking. USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service scientists are working with partners across the coastal plain to understand where these watery…  More 

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. The findings were published in the journal Water…  More 

Translating National Forest Policies to Local Forest Management

The USDA Forest Service operates at the national, regional, and local levels and must account for a variety of constraints and considerations across its range. Therefore, national-level priorities may not always translate into local-scale management actions. One example of a Forest Service, National Forest System priority area is carbon sequestration. Carbon sequestration is the process…  More 

Amphibian Life Cycles and Climate Change

From the trees in the forest to the various organisms populating it, all species of plants and animals have periodic life cycle events. Changes in climate have impacted the timing of these life cycle events for many species. This, in turn, can affect how likely coexisting populations are to interact with each other. A study…  More 

Projecting Climate Change Effects on Outdoor Recreation

Cool temperatures enjoyed by hikers might rise enough that people decide to stay inside instead. The culprit – climate change – will cause higher temperatures and uneven intensification of both drought and rainfall. As a result, outdoor recreation trends could change markedly. A study by University of Georgia postdoctoral research associate Ashley Askew and USDA…  More 

Eucalyptus Freezes in the Piedmont

When a cold snap killed the Eucalyptus benthamii saplings, no one was surprised. E. benthamii is one of the most cold-tolerant of approximately 700 Eucalypts. Still, it is maladapted to the North Carolina Piedmont, according to a recent USDA Forest Service study published in Forest Science. “Winters are becoming milder,” says John Butnor, an SRS…  More 

Seminole Bats on the Move

Over the past 48 years, Seminole bats (Lasiurus seminolus) have drastically expanded their range. “The northern edge of their summer range has expanded by 323 miles,” says Roger Perry, a USDA Forest Service research wildlife biologist. “That’s approximately 7 miles a year since 1970.” The western range is also expanding, possibly because forests are replacing…  More 

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…  More 

Using CAT in Local Watersheds

General circulation models use math to predict the future – future rainfall and temperature data, for example. But GCMs are meant for global or regional scales. “CAT is better for fine scales,” says USDA Forest Service research hydrologist Ying Ouyang. CAT, the Climate Assessment Tool, is a model developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.…  More