The Future of Forests & Water in the NC Piedmont

We’re all downstream from something. A new modeling study by the USDA Forest Service shows that forests make very good upstream neighbors. The research focuses on the Yadkin Pee-Dee River Basin in central North Carolina. Senior research ecologist Jim Vose and colleagues have been studying this area because of its projected rapid population growth and…  More 

Putting Mangrove Data to Work in East Africa

Mangrove forests are among the most carbon-rich ecosystems on the planet. Their stilt-like roots trap carbon and other nutrients that rivers have carried to the coastal deltas where mangroves grow. They act as a buffer, protecting coastlines and the people who live there from increasingly strong seas and storm surges. People depend on mangrove forests…  More 

Elevation and Invasion

When humans wander the planet, they carry their plants along, often inadvertently. For example, Plantago major earned the common name ‘white man’s footprint,’ because it hitchhiked to the U.S. with European settlers and began growing along trails and roads. It is a very common species in the Southeast and has naturalized all over the globe.…  More 

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. “How will managers respond to the threats posed by changing climate conditions?” asks USDA Forest Service scientist James Guldin.…  More 

Carbon Storage in Longleaf Pine Roots

“Longleaf roots are pretty legendary,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Peter Anderson. “It’s common to hear that you can dig up a really old stump and use it as a quick, reliable kindling.” Pines contain oleoresins, a sticky liquid mix of oil and resin (or rosin). “There are companies today that buy and dig old…  More 

Water Tables and Wetlands

Some wetlands won’t stay wet, according to new research that blends long-term observations and climate projections. “By end of the 21st century, all five of the wetland sites we studied are predicted to become much drier,” says USDA Forest Service research hydrologist Ge Sun. The five wetlands are long-term research sites located throughout the southeastern…  More 

The State of the Nation’s Forests

Forests are constantly changing with weather, disturbance, and conversion to other land uses, but how do we know if year-to-year changes are just a one-off or part of a larger shift? Annual summaries of forest health are key to our understanding, say the editors and authors that produced Forest Health Monitoring: National Status, Trends, and…  More 

Projections of Future Climate and Annual Runoff

Hydrologists have traditionally relied on historic precipitation data to estimate broad-scale runoff. “Rainfall was always number one,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Ge Sun. “But things are changing and getting more complicated.” Sun co-authored a recent modeling study that investigated how other climate factors might influence future changes in runoff. The researchers were intrigued by…  More 

Climate Drivers of Carbon Gain and Water Loss in a Southern Appalachian Forest

The planet is warming, and warmth revs the machinery of life. “As it gets warmer, living things burn up more carbon through respiration,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Chris Oishi. “It’s true of trees and soil microbes.” Soil is bursting with invertebrate life, microbial life, and living plant roots. It’s also where decomposers do their…  More 

The Future of Fish in the NC Piedmont

What will fish communities of the North Carolina Piedmont look like in the future? “Many factors could affect this,” says U.S. Forest Service research hydrologist Peter Caldwell. “Water withdrawals could be one of the most important.” Water withdrawn from rivers may eventually flow out of kitchen faucets. Many municipalities get drinking water from rivers and…  More