Laurel Wilt Disease and the Endangered Pondberry Shrub

Pondberry (Lindera melissifolia) is a rare, federally endangered shrub that’s found scattered around bottomland forests of the southeastern U.S. In late summer, the shrub produces spicy, crimson-colored fruits. Like other native Lauraceae species, its leaves give off a sweet, citrusy scent when crushed. And, like its Lauraceous brethren redbay and sassafras, pondberry is susceptible to…  More 

A Snapshot in Time of Threats to U.S. Forests

Hemlock woolly adelgid, gypsy moth, emerald ash borer: ask any USDA Forest Service scientist which insects and diseases pose a threat to our forests, and they could probably name a baker’s dozen. A huge number of insects and diseases have the potential to negatively affect tree species in the United States. However, the danger is…  More 

Promoting Forest Health in Kentucky

Most bourbon whiskey is made in Kentucky, and federal law requires all bourbon to be aged in white oak barrels. USDA Forest Service researchers and partners are teaming up to advance the sustainability and restoration of white oak resources across the South. This research, along with forest health research on the American chestnut and other…  More 

How Tree Diversity Affects Invasive Forest Pests

“Invasive insects and diseases pose both ecological and economic threats to our forest ecosystems,” says Qinfeng Guo, USDA Forest Service research ecologist. Guo is the lead author of a broad-scale study of U.S. forest data that examines the relationship between the number of native tree species and the number of nonnative forest pests. Across their…  More 

Study Supports Single Introduction of Laurel Wilt Pathogen in the U.S.

Laurel wilt has devastated plants in the Lauraceae family – redbay, sassafras, pondberry, avocado, and others – since it was first detected in the southeastern U.S. around 2002. The disease is caused by the pathogen Raffaelea lauricola and carried by the redbay ambrosia beetle – and by humans moving infested wood. There is no widespread,…  More 

SRS Scientist Legacy: Continued Insect Research

A USDA Forest Service research scientist extended his 50 year legacy by donating more than a million dollars to each of his alma maters. John Moser’s research focused on understanding the biology of town ants (Atta texana), phoretic mites, and other associates of ants and pine bark beetles. Moser received his undergraduate and graduate degrees…  More 

A Hemlock in the Town Square

This summer, I joined USDA Forest Service scientist Andy Whittier for a day of field work as a part of my internship with SRS Public Affairs and Science Communications. We traveled to Green Mountain, NC to check up on an experiment led by research entomologist Bud Mayfield on hemlock trees. Throughout the eastern U.S., the invasive…  More 

The State of the Nation’s Forests

Forests are constantly changing with weather, disturbance, and conversion to other land uses, but how do we know if year-to-year changes are just a one-off or part of a larger shift? Annual summaries of forest health are key to our understanding, say the editors and authors that produced Forest Health Monitoring: National Status, Trends, and…  More 

State Line Meeting with Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi

On August 17 and 18, state foresters from Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, along with their staffs and personnel from the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS), gathered in Biloxi, MS. This was the third State Line Meeting for state foresters Wade Dubea of Louisiana and Charlie Morgan of Mississippi, and the first for Alabama State…  More 

Where Are the Southern Pine Beetles?

Between 2005 and 2015, only 18 counties in the southern U.S. experienced southern pine beetle outbreaks–fewer than two outbreak counties per year on average. U.S. Forest Service entomologist Chris Asaro wanted to know why and worked with two other Forest Health Protection scientists, John Nowak and Anthony Elledge, on a new review paper published in Forest…  More