Bumblebees and Blueberries

Flowering plants and pollinators depend on each other. It’s a global truism, and it’s true on a 440 acre blueberry farm in northern Florida. “Bumblebees are extremely efficient pollinators,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Joseph O’Brien. “In the time it takes a honeybee to pollinate a single blueberry flower, a bumblebee can pollinate as…  More 

Hoary Bats Hibernate

Hoary bats are wanderers – they sometimes migrate hundreds of miles and can be found in almost every state in the U.S. Researchers with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station documented hoary bats going into a state of torpor, or hibernation. While it’s not unusual for some species of bat to migrate or…  More 

Home is a Pine Tree

Every summer, female Indiana bats fly through southern Appalachian forests looking for a place to rear their pups. A new study, coauthored by U.S. Forest Service research ecologist, Susan Loeb, suggests that the bats are looking for yellow pine snags. Although Indiana bats sometimes roosted in other trees, they strongly preferred yellow pine snags, especially…  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 

In South Carolina, Coyotes Not a Threat to Adult Deer

In parts of the northeastern U.S., white-tailed deer populations have ballooned. Not so in parts of the southeastern U.S., such as South Carolina, where the statewide deer population has been declining for about 12 years. “In the Southeast, coyotes often prey on white-tailed deer fawns,” says U.S. Forest Service research wildlife biologist John Kilgo. “There…  More 

Freshwater Mussels in Kentucky

Kentucky, with its diverse natural environment, supports at least 100 native freshwater mussel species and subspecies. This number represents one-third of North American mussel diversity, and Kentucky, along with other southeastern states, supports the most diverse mussel fauna of any region on Earth. Unfortunately, this fauna is greatly diminished by human activities: about 12 mussel…  More 

Freshwater Mussels Play a Part in Restoring Their Own Habitat

In Kentucky, the U.S. Forest Service and state partners are on a mission to find out why streams such as Horse Lick Creek, a tributary of the Cumberland River basin, are no longer able to support freshwater mussels – and they’re using the mussels themselves to solve the mystery. North America is home to the…  More 

In the Amazon Rainforest, Small Roads Have Big Impacts

Cars, trucks, and other vehicles leave noise, pollution, and roadkill in their wake. But if those impacts are subtracted, what about the roads themselves? “We wanted to untangle the effects of a road from the effects of driving vehicles on that road,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Daniel Saenz. The issue is especially important in…  More 

Earthworms, Millipedes, and Soil Carbon in the Eastern U.S.

Ubiquitous in the southeastern U.S., native earthworms are absent from the northern part of the country. It wasn’t always so, but tens of thousands of years ago glaciers crept across the land, and earthworms below them froze to death. Because earthworms are slow travelers, they have not naturally recolonized the areas where glaciers were present.…  More 

Lizards or Salamanders?

The southern Appalachians are crawling with salamanders. In western North Carolina alone, more than 45 species can be found, and they are critical members of food webs – both as predators and as prey. Salamanders and other amphibians, as well as reptiles, can be affected by forest management practices. “However, amphibians and reptiles are ecologically,…  More