Very Crafty Caterpillars

Butterflies are the charismatic megafauna of the insect world. Who doesn’t admire the stripes on an Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), the eye spots on the Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus), or the amazing journey of the Monarch (Danaus plexippus), flying from Canada to Mexico to return to a place only known to its great-grandparents? Their…  More 

Vernal Crayfish Life History and Habitat Use

What to call a freshwater crustacean that resembles a small lobster? USDA Forest Service scientist Zanethia Barnett has a clever answer: “I study crayfish, but I eat crawfish.” More than half of the nation’s 357 species of crayfish — also known as crawdads, mudbugs, or yabbies — can be found in the Southeast. Crayfish break…  More 

Rediscovering the Yalobusha Rivulet Crayfish

In 1989, Joseph Fitzpatrick discovered the Yalobusha rivulet crayfish (Hobbseus yalobushensis). After the species description was published, silence reigned. For the next 29 years, no studies focused on the species. “That’s not uncommon,” says USDA Forest Service aquatic ecologist Susan Adams. “We know very little about the ecology and life history of many crayfish species.”…  More 

Chinese Tallow Litter and Tadpoles

Centuries ago, a tree was plucked out of its native ecosystems and introduced to the U.S. Chinese tallow (Triadica sebifera) is a showy tree with waxy seeds and heart-shaped leaves. Every autumn, its leaves turn crimson or orange before falling to the ground – or the water. “Chinese tallow invades wetlands and riparian areas in…  More 

The Future of Fish in the NC Piedmont

What will fish communities of the North Carolina Piedmont look like in the future? “Many factors could affect this,” says U.S. Forest Service research hydrologist Peter Caldwell. “Water withdrawals could be one of the most important.” Water withdrawn from rivers may eventually flow out of kitchen faucets. Many municipalities get drinking water from rivers and…  More 

Immigration and Reproduction Complicate Coyote Control Programs

Coyotes arrived in the Southeast relatively recently. “Beginning in the early 20th century, coyotes started moving eastward,” says John Kilgo, a research biologist with the U.S. Forest Service. “But they weren’t recorded in South Carolina until the late 1970s.” From an evolutionary perspective, they’ve been incredibly successful. They have become quite common in the Southeast.…  More 

Invasive Earthworms in the Food Web

Imagine walking through a forest, with leaves crunching beneath your feet. Underneath those crunchy leaves is a complex ecological realm. “Soil is teeming with life,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Mac Callaham. “Most people don’t think about it because they don’t see the soil fauna.” Soil fauna includes centipedes, millipedes, springtails, nematodes, insect larvae,…  More 

National Fish & Aquatic Strategy

The U.S. Forest Service recently completed an updated national fish and aquatic strategy titled Rise to the Future: National Fish and Aquatic Strategy. This plan builds on three decades of success and lessons learned from the original Rise to the Future Fisheries Strategy in 1987. Why does the Forest Service need an updated national fish…  More 

SRS Researcher Receives Grant to Study White-Nose Syndrome

White-nose syndrome (WNS) has killed more than six million bats over the past decade. WNS is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). Studies show that bats eat enough insect pests to save the U.S. corn industry more than $1 billion a year in crop damage and pesticide costs, and more than $3 billion per…  More 

Monitoring Frog & Toad Populations?

Over the past few decades, scientists have become increasingly concerned about amphibians. “Populations of many frog and toad species have declined,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Katie Greenberg. “The global decline highlights the need to monitor frogs and toads where they live.” Greenberg has been doing just that for 24 years. Since 1994, Greenberg…  More