Testing Blight Resistance in American Chestnuts

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was a keystone tree species in the eastern U.S., once found in the forest overstory from Maine to Georgia. The loss of the “mighty giant” to chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica), a fungal disease accidentally imported from Asia in the early 1900s, reduced the once dominant chestnuts to remnant understory sprouts.…  More 

Hemlock Seedlings Released from Shade

Eastern hemlock typically grows in shady environments, but its world is now infested by hemlock woolly adelgids (HWA). The miniscule sap-sucking insects can kill mature trees in less than five years. “Eastern hemlock is a shade-tolerant species,” says USDA Forest Service research entomologist Bud Mayfield. “But extra sunlight may help it survive HWA infestation.” Extra…  More 

Using Prescribed Fire to Restore and Sustain Oak Ecosystems

Used incorrectly, fire can degrade wood quality and its value as timber. When should managers use prescribed fire in hardwood stands? “I field a lot of questions from state and local partners about the long-term effects of using prescribed fire in hardwood stands,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Callie Schweitzer. Schweitzer has spent her career…  More 

How I Joined the Wood-in-the-Water Choir

Not everyone knows from an early age what they want to do when they grow up. I did. Raised in a small coastal Maine town that was home base for marine and estuarine research and with an affinity for the outdoors, I knew I was destined to pursue a career in marine biology. Right out…  More 

Longing for Longleaf Pine

In the early 1800s, longleaf pine-dominated forests stretched from eastern Texas to southern Virginia and south into central Florida. These forests covered about 90 million acres — nearly the size of the state of Montana. The dense, tightly grained wood from these forests built some of America’s great cities and railroads. Vast sections were cleared…  More 

Formidable Forest Shrubs Affect Tree Height and Biomass

Forests are made of three-dimensional life forms that constantly interact with each other and with the abiotic factors in their environment. A recent study shows how complex those interactions can be. “Trees growing within an evergreen shrub layer can be almost 20 feet shorter than trees without a shrub layer,” says USDA Forest Service scientist…  More 

Coastal Plain Fish Diversity and Introduced Small Wood

Coastal plain streams don’t always have swirling eddies or meandering bends. “They can look more like drainage ditches than natural streams,” says USDA Forest Service technician Ken Sterling. Agriculture, flood abatement, and residential development have all contributed to stream straightening in this region. The result? Streams incise and downcut, like a canyon. “These streams are…  More 

Post-Fire Mortality for Southern Hardwoods

Drive down Highway 7 in northern Arkansas, winding through the Ozark National Forest, and you may glimpse evidence of recent fire: scorched grass, darkened tree bark, maybe even a lingering wisp of smoke. Traces of prescribed burning can be seen throughout the South. Prescribed fire is a critical tool for forest restoration. A new study…  More 

Climate Influences Male-Female Balance in Longleaf Pines

For many reptile and fish species, temperature during egg incubation determines whether hatchlings are male or female. In the northern part of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, scientists have discovered that 99 percent of immature green turtles hatched in warming sands are female, raising concerns about successful reproduction in the future. U.S. Forest Service scientists have…  More 

Bottomland Hardwood Restoration – What Happens Belowground?

If something looks like a forest, does it act like a forest? U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Mac Callaham, along with several colleagues, asked that question about bottomland hardwoods in west-central Mississippi. “Back in the late 1960s, there was a soybean boom, and a lot of bottomland forests were cleared for farming,” says Callaham. However,…  More