Managed fires

Fire is a natural ecosystem process. Many land managers in the southeastern U.S. understand that prescribed burning as an essential tool for restoring and maintaining biodiversity in fire-adapted forests and grasslands. The role of wildfire, however, is less widely accepted as a means to maintain healthy, resilient ecosystems. The term wildfire implies a fire that…  More 

Focus on Joseph O’Brien

This is a new type of article focusing on the people behind the science. These articles will profile SRS employees – from different job series and locations – whose work fulfills and supports the Station’s mission. “I am intrigued by the connection between fire and its role in maintaining biodiversity,” says Joseph O’Brien, a research…  More 

Fighting future fires

Climate change threatens communities around the world with the promise of more floods, drought, extreme heat, hurricanes – and wildfire. As these events increase in frequency, they will add new pressures to the federal budget. The USDA Forest Service has already taken proactive steps to mitigate some of these impacts. The agency recently established a…  More 

Without fire, trees become more susceptible to it

Historically, fires frequently burned Southern Appalachian forests. Many tree species evolved traits that aided survival in this fire environment. However, with the exclusion of fire from these forests for many decades, new research suggests traits that once made trees resistant to fire may now make them more susceptible to it. USDA Forest Service scientists Melanie…  More 

Prescribed fire history affects pollinator diversity in southern forests

Landscapes with diverse fire histories – or pyrodiverse landscapes – have higher diversity of pollinators, as a recent study by USDA Forest Service scientist Michael Ulyshen shows. The study was published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Tall Timbers Research Station, the study location, is nestled in the Red Hills Ecoregion of the Coastal…  More 

Prescribed fire science: Why it’s needed now more than ever

Much of what is known about planned fire comes from a burn manager’s memory. “It takes years to get that kind of experience,” says Joseph O’Brien, fire research ecologist with the USDA Forest Service. “If things are changing, like invasive species or climate, or if you’re a new manager, you need help.” O’Brien, writing in…  More 

Taking students to the fireline

Over 50 students at Clemson University have participated in the Fire Tigers Program. The program starts with a week of classes. Students who like the classes can keep going – they can take saw and pump classes and help conduct prescribed fires on nearby national forests. Some students work on wildfires and become certified wildland…  More 

Burrowing crayfish prefer burning to boiling

Crayfish burrow amongst the prairie roots But are they affected by the woody shoots? Turns out as the woody stems get tall The number of crayfish burrow openings begins to fall. We know many species benefit from fire, but burrowing crayfish? USDA Forest Service scientist Susan Adams led a study that found the number of…  More 

New book on fire ecology and management across the U.S.

A comprehensive book on fire ecology and management in U.S. forests is now available. More than 70 experts wrote the book together, including researchers, land managers, and other experts from the USDA Forest Service. Other authors represented universities, non-governmental organizations and state and federal agencies. Forest Service scientist Katie Greenberg and Western Carolina University professor…  More 

Fires change forests

A study spanning four continents and 67 years suggests that frequent fire is causing grasslands to replace savannas. The effects of changing fire frequencies may take several decades to become substantial, reports the study led by Stanford University researcher Adam Pellegrini, with contributions from USDA Forest Service research plant physiologist Mary Anne Sword Sayer and…  More