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 

The Most Vulnerable Trees

What do water locust, Texas walnut, chalk maple, pyramid magnolia, two-wing silver bell, and butterbough all have in common? They’re among the U.S. tree species most vulnerable to climate change, according to a study by North Carolina State University (NCSU) and the U.S. Forest Service. The Forest Service Forest Health Protection program sponsored the study,…  More 

Exotic Plants May Dominate After a Fire, But Not for Long

Land managers expect that exotic invasive plants will quickly move in following a disturbance, especially after a fire. Though exotics initially might have an edge over native plants on burned ground, this may not always be so as time goes on, according to a U.S. Forest Service study. Qinfeng Guo, a research ecologist with the…  More 

Fire Frequency & Hardwood Regeneration

The mighty oak is a critical component of southern forests—for wildlife habitat, acorn production, and hardwood timber—but forests are changing, and its future is uncertain. A long-running U.S. Forest Service experiment studied the use of prescribed fire to control competition from shade-tolerant tree species like red maple, American beech, and blackgum. The study area, located on…  More 

NASA Proposal Selected for Funding

Forests – and other plant communities – pull carbon dioxide gas out of the air and store it, or convert it into forms the rest of life on earth can use. “The conversion of carbon dioxide gas into other carbon-containing forms is called primary productivity,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Jim Vose. Productivity in the…  More 

Forests, Farms, or Houses?

Molecules relentlessly cycle from one form to another. “Simple human activities, such as building homes, can affect these cycles,” says U.S. Forest Service research soil scientist Jennifer Knoepp. For example, trees growing near streams affect the way nitrogen and other nutrients move from the land to the water. “Riparian zones play a critical role in…  More 

Stream Crossings and Water Quality

In many situations, the adage “dirt doesn’t hurt” is true. One important exception is when soils erode, and rain washes the sediments into streams. Johnny Boggs, a biological scientist with the U.S. Forest Service Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, recently led a study on preventing stream sedimentation in forests. Sedimentation impacts water quality and can…  More 

Bats Adapt to Disturbed Habitat

Rafinesque’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus rafinesquii) is considered a rare and sensitive species. The bats are small, with a body length of three to four inches, ears just over one inch, a wingspan just shy of a foot, and they weigh around half an ounce — less than a slice of bread. Though their range includes much of…  More 

Sassafras and Laurel Wilt Disease

The scent of a crushed sassafras leaf is unforgettable – sweet, pungent, fragrant. If you have never plucked one of the leaves and rolled it around between your fingers, you should. “Sassafras is susceptible to laurel wilt disease,” says U.S. Forest Service research mathematical statistician KaDonna Randolph. “The disease has not reached the heart of…  More 

New Forest, New Water Yield

Today, forests abound in the southern Appalachians. However, there was a time in the early 1900s when many forests were harvested or cleared so that the land could be used to grow crops or provide pasture. “The forests that have returned may use water differently,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Katherine Elliott. Elliott and…  More