Mapping Disturbances to Protect the Future of Our Forests

Our forests are changing rapidly, and with this comes the need to both understand and track how and where this change is happening. Monitoring forest disturbances is critical for effective decision making, yet our ability to do so was largely insufficient until recently. Researchers can now track a significant amount of these changes with new…  More 

Asian Clams and Native Mussel Growth

Native freshwater mussels grew more slowly when invasive Asian clams (Corbicula fluminea) were abundant. The study was led by Wendell Haag, a USDA Forest Service research fisheries biologist. It was published in the journal Freshwater Biology. Mussels live out of sight – buried in the river bottom, eating algae and other small particles of organic…  More 

Chinese Privet, Arthropods, and Bees

Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) is one of the worst invasive plants in the South. It dominates the shrub layer and often becomes the only shrub underneath trees, especially in streamside areas. But insects and spiders living in fallen leaves and leaf litter were not affected by a privet invasion in Georgia, as a recent study…  More 

Life as a Radio Operator in the Communications Unit

“Communications, Taskforce Leader Peterson,” blurts the radio. “Communications, go ahead Taskforce Leader Peterson,” I say. “I would like to report a vehicle rollover on Highway 73. Please clear the airway for emergency traffic only.” The Communications Unit bursts into action. Someone alerts critical members of Type 1 Incident Command Team that we have an Incident…  More 

Hurricane Preparation and Recovery Guides for Land Managers

Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of hurricanes. Southern forest, farm, and ranch landowners need to better prepare and plan for hurricane impacts. The USDA Southeast Climate Hub surveyed hurricane preparedness and recovery resources and identified a need for centralized guidance that is complete and consistent. The Hub teamed up with university extension…  More 

How Do Weather, Insects, and Diseases Impact Forests? It Depends

Forests of the southern U.S. are among the most productive and intensively managed in the world. Disturbances naturally alter forest stands, sometimes creating conditions that benefit plant or animal communities, but can cause major economic losses to landowners. What’s more, the impacts from one disturbance may invite other disturbances – dead and damaged trees can…  More 

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 

New Science Synthesis on Soils and Soil Management

We don’t often think about what’s underneath our feet, but soils are essential for the food we eat, building materials for our homes, the clean water we drink, storing carbon and mitigating climate change, even the air we breathe. Our health and well-being depend on healthy soils. It may be time to take a closer…  More 

Dead Wood, Insects, and Fire

Dead wood is a secret harbor of biodiversity. About one-third of all insect species are saproxylic – or dependent upon dead wood – at some stage in their life cycle. The effects of common forest management practices on this important resource and the insects that use it are understudied, especially in subtropical climates. USDA Forest…  More 

Research Partnerships with Native American Communities

“The Southern Research Station is working with a number of Native American tribes to promote forest ecosystem restoration and sustainability,” says Monica Schwalbach, USDA Forest Service assistant director. The projects focus on sustainability of botanical species that are important to indigenous communities. SRS researcher Michelle Baumflek is the science lead for many of these projects,…  More