Sustainable Growth & the Future of Forested Watersheds

Forests provide high quality and dependable supplies of surface water. More than 19 million people in the Southeast get at least some of their drinking water from national forests, as U.S. Forest Service research revealed. However, most forest land in the Southeast U.S. is privately owned. Such land could be converted to other uses in…  More 

Conserving Eastern Hemlock

Where can you go to find an eastern hemlock tree? Although threatened by the hemlock woolly adelgid, eastern hemlock has an extensive range. “Eastern hemlock grows throughout the southern Appalachians,” says U.S. Forest Service collaborator and ecologist Kevin Potter. Potter is also a forestry faculty member at North Carolina State University. “Hemlock grows in the…  More 

Fish Production in Southern Appalachians

Packing on the pounds – or ounces – indicates that fish have what they need to survive and grow. “Fish production is a great way to estimate ecosystem productivity,” says U.S. Forest Service researcher Andy Dolloff. Production refers to how quickly fish gain weight and grow in size. “Production is a function of how many…  More 

30 Years of Nitrogen Fertilization in Spruce-Fir Forest

Rocks and sediments bind up almost 98 percent of all nitrogen. The remaining 2 percent is in motion, part of a global chemical cycle that includes humans, bacteria, plants, and the atmosphere. “Plants need nitrogen to grow,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Steve McNulty. “However, excess nitrogen can harm plants.” Nitrogen and sulfur can…  More 

Frogs, Toads, and Ephemeral Wetlands

When ephemeral wetlands swell with water, frogs and toads congregate to breed and lay their eggs,which hatch into tadpoles. “That’s risky business,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Katie Greenberg. “Wetlands could dry before tadpoles metamorphose into juveniles.” If ephemeral wetlands dry out before the tadpoles develop lungs and become froglets or toadlets, an entire…  More 

Air, Water, and Wavelets

We know air temperature has increased over the last 15-20 years, and that it will continue to do so on an unprecedented scale. But we are still learning exactly how this air trend impacts water. As it turns out, air temperature is linked to changes in our streams — affecting things like flow, soil moisture,…  More 

Drier Weather, Drier Fuels

Dry weather – and huge wildfires – are common. “Climate change would modify fuel moisture and wildland fires dramatically across the United States,” says Yongqiang Liu. Liu is a U.S. Forest Service research meteorologist who recently investigated climate impacts on fuel moisture. His study was published in the journal Ecohydrology. Weather quickly influences fuel moisture…  More 

Shifting Window of Growing Seasons

When winter comes to an end, it’s no mystery that warming temperatures and spring rains bring new life. Wildlife emerges, flowers bloom, and brilliant green leaves begin to fill the ground and the forest canopy—all part of their seasonal cycle known as phenology. Observers know those green leaves don’t appear at the same time every…  More 

Eastern Trees Move North & West

After analyzing extensive data collected on 86 tree species in the eastern U.S., researchers found that most trees have been shifting their ranges westward or northward in response to temperature and precipitation changes. Scientists from Purdue University, North Carolina State University, and the U.S. Forest Service collaborated on the study, which was recently published in…  More 

Topography and Drought

The planet is changing, and the hydrologic cycle will change along with it. Extreme droughts – as well as extremely wet weather – are expected to become more frequent and more intense. “These changes may interact with topography to affect species composition in unexpected ways,” says Chelcy Miniat. Miniat is a researcher and project leader…  More