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 

Invasive Plants Follow Land Abandonment after Hurricane Katrina

The lot is overgrown, crowded with unruly shrubs, vines, and waist-high weeds. It is littered with old tires and garbage and is now home to a rusted Toyota Tercel. The air is heavy and buzzing with mosquitoes. This is the Lower 9th Ward, where U.S. Forest Service research forester Wayne Zipperer studied the vegetation on…  More 

How Cold Is Too Cold for Redbay Ambrosia Beetles?

Nonnative redbay ambrosia beetles and the fungus they carry have killed hundreds of millions of trees in the Southeast since first detected in 2002. Currently, only cold temperatures limit the beetles’ establishment and spread in the eastern United States. A study led by Mississippi State University involving U.S. Forest Service researchers determined the coldest temperatures…  More 

Do Roads Drive Forest Plant Invasions?

Roads provide a means for moving people and products, but they can also allow hitchhiking organisms to spread. Some exotic invasive plants thrive on the disturbance created by road construction that displaces native plants. However, a new study led by Kurt Riitters, U.S. Forest Service research ecologist with the SRS Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, found…  More 

Harvest Disturbance Recovery in Wet Pine Flats

Just after Hurricane Hugo roared over the Atlantic coastal plain in 1989, U.S. Forest Service research soil scientist Bill McKee (now retired) visited Francis Marion National Forest in South Carolina. Some of its wet pine flats were so badly damaged that they looked like they had been clearcut. McKee was joined by Michael Aust and…  More 

Urban Forest Strike Teams Support Storm Recovery

Thousands of federal, state, and private agencies have been deployed to areas that were impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. These first responders are there to help the people in the storm’s path. However, there is another group of responders that go into storm-ravaged towns to aid the trees: the Urban Forest Strike Teams (UFST).…  More 

After the Hurricane: Dealing with Damaged Trees

Hurricanes bring winds that can exceed 125 miles per hour, heavy rain, and flooding — any or all of which can damage trees. Some damage can be seen immediately, while some damage may not become apparent for years after a hurricane. On the other hand, what may initially seem like mortal damage — all the…  More 

Plant Invasion Patterns at Global and Regional Scales

From the moment of colonization, humans have carried non-native plants around the world with them. “The introductions are changing the world’s biogeography,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Qinfeng Guo. “Understanding the mechanisms behind invasion patterns is critically important.” Invasion patterns vary depending on the scale. At finer scales, invasions are often related to competition.…  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 

Don’t Forget the Soil Fauna

When U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station research ecologist Mac Callaham and post-doctoral researcher David Coyle, D.B. Warnell School of Forest Resources, were teaching a class together at the University of Georgia, they decided to involve their students in writing a manuscript. The paper aimed to call attention to a subject that in recent years…  More