Seed Size & Predation

Among their many benefits, prescribed fires can protect southeastern pine woodlands from encroachment – the process of fire-sensitive species expanding into fire-maintained woodlands. Because fire is important for longleaf pine regeneration, forest researchers have studied the effects of flammability on the pine woodlands. In a recent study published in in Applied Vegetation Science, USDA Forest…  More 

One Treatment Does Not Fit All Sizes

Bats are important components of healthy forests and provide critical ecological services across numerous different ecosystems. For decades, bat populations throughout the southern U.S. have been declining due to habitat disturbance and loss. USDA Forest Service scientist Susan Loeb contributed to two recent publications to address this issue, suggesting ways to improve bat management practices…  More 

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 

Prescribed Fire Effects on Soil Fertility

USDA Forest Service researcher John Butnor wondered how dormant-season prescribed fire affects forest soil fertility in the months after a burn. Do nutrients from burned pine straw, grasses, and woody debris remain in the forest? Others have studied soil a year or more after a prescribed burn. Butnor’s research compares soil chemistry before burning and…  More 

Wildfire During a Drought? It Can Still Benefit Forests

In the summer of 2011, lightning struck a ridge near High Peak Mountain, on the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas. The High Peak Wildfire began. “It’s a remote and rugged area, and we were in the middle of a severe drought,” says Virginia McDaniel, a USDA Forest Service forestry technician, who led a study on…  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 

Silviculture for Open Forests

Grassy oak savannas and sunny pine woodlands were once a common sight across the eastern U.S. These open forests have fewer large trees in the overstory and a bounty of native grasses and flowering plants in the understory. Frequent fire limited tree regrowth and created the open canopy. USDA Forest Service scientist Don Bragg and…  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 

Wildfire Recovery Hot Moments

Disasters can be catalysts for change. As wildfires become more common, an emerging objective is to make communities fire-adapted, where ecological benefits of fire can be realized while minimizing threats to life and property. Yet questions remain as to when and how such community change takes place. Recent research by Ronald Schumann of University of…  More