Carbon Pools and Fluxes in Southern Appalachian Forests

An estimated 35 percent of the global terrestrial carbon is stored in soil and biotic carbon pools, such as forests. These pools can store or release carbon. Because forests store immense amounts of carbon, forest management is becoming part of efforts to increase carbon sequestration and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Long-term research from the USDA…  More 

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…  More 

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. With researchers from North Carolina State University, USDA Forest Service scientist Peter Caldwell designed a model to assess…  More 

Modeling Study on Cattle Feed Crops & River Flow Depletion

A new study uses a USDA Forest Service modeling tool – the Water Supply Stress Index, or WaSSI, ecosystem services model – to explore the relationship between water use, river flows, and fish populations across the conterminous U.S. Brian Richter from the University of Virginia led the study. SRS researcher Peter Caldwell’s expertise with WaSSI…  More 

New Zones Delineate Seed Source Regions

Plant seeds are the crucial starting point for innumerable conservation projects, from backyard butterfly gardens to large reforestation projects. For the USDA Forest Service and its many partners, tree, shrub, and herbaceous plants’ seeds and seedlings are needed in large numbers for forest restoration and land management work. “In any such effort, it is important…  More 

Red Spruce Restoration

The study of how, or if, a species is genetically adapted to its environment is called genecology. USDA Forest Service plant physiologists Kurt Johnsen and John Butnor, with biological scientist Chris Maier, are conducting genecology and molecular genetic studies across the range of red spruce (Picea rubens) in a cooperative study with Steve Keller of…  More 

Genetics of Shortleaf and Longleaf Pine in Seed Orchards

Shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) and longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) ecosystems have been dwindling for decades. Restoration is a huge priority for the USDA Forest Service, the Longleaf Pine Alliance, the Shortleaf Pine Initiative, and many others. Restoration requires seed, and on National Forest System lands the seed comes from USDA Forest Service seed orchards. The…  More 

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. “Maintaining healthy and diverse…  More 

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