E-Noses Detect Emerald Ash Borer Larvae

Electronic noses are sensitive to a vast suite of volatile organic compounds that every living organism emits. A new USDA Forest Service study shows that e-noses can detect emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) larvae lurking under the bark – an early, noninvasive detection method. “The results were quite spectacular,” says Dan Wilson, a research plant…  More 

Past Partial-Cutting Techniques More Beneficial Than Past Clear-Cutting

What is the most sustainable way to harvest a forest? A team led by USDA Forest Service scientists Katherine Elliott and Chelcy Miniat, along with Forest Service intern Andrea Medenblik, tries to answer this question. Data were analyzed from a long-term study looking at the biomass effects of partial-cutting versus clear-cutting in different watersheds in…  More 

After Fire, Red Oak Seedlings Resprout

Disturbance – from fire and subsistence living to widespread exploitative logging – enabled the growth of oak (Quercus) forests across the eastern U.S. These disturbances are not common today. Reduced disturbance, coupled with a long-term increase in moisture availability has been good for non-oak trees, which establish and grow under the older oak canopy –…  More 

Why Native Plants Are Best

This article was written to celebrate Native Plant Month in Arkansas. It was originally published in Our Ozarks. In 1733, Peter Collinson, a botanist and cloth merchant, walked with great excitement to the ship docks in London. He picked up two boxes of seeds from an American farmer named John Bartram. With these exotic seeds,…  More 

New Zones Delineate Seed Source Regions

Plant seeds are the crucial starting point for innumerable conservation projects, from backyard butterfly gardens to large reforestation projects. For the USDA Forest Service and its many partners, tree, shrub, and herbaceous plants’ seeds and seedlings are needed in large numbers for forest restoration and land management work. “In any such effort, it is important…  More 

Closer to Understanding Enigmatic Mussel Declines

Just by existing and eating, mussels improve water quality. They are filter feeders, which means they eat small pieces of organic matter that float past them. But mussels are dying, often in streams that otherwise seem healthy. Many streams that formerly supported diverse mussel communities now are essentially defaunated. These events are enigmatic because other…  More 

White Oak Regeneration in Canopy Gaps

In February 2020, USDA Forest Service scientist Stacy Clark planted 720 white oak (Quercus alba) seedlings on the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina. “White oak is declining in abundance across the eastern U.S., and we are concerned that wildlife species and industries around cooperages, distilleries, and flooring will be negatively affected without proactive…  More 

Red Spruce Restoration

The study of how, or if, a species is genetically adapted to its environment is called genecology. USDA Forest Service plant physiologists Kurt Johnsen and John Butnor, with biological scientist Chris Maier, are conducting genecology and molecular genetic studies across the range of red spruce (Picea rubens) in a cooperative study with Steve Keller of…  More 

Digging Deep for Crayfish Clues

Kneeling in a wet prairie, arm extended to the armpit in a muddy hole, most biologists would quickly arrive at the thought, “There’s got to be a better way.” So it’s not surprising that, when it comes to sampling for burrowing crayfishes, researchers have devised some creative solutions. In the southeastern U.S. – the global…  More 

Black Locust & Drought

With its symbiotic bacteria, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) makes its own nitrogen fertilizer – and can share it with other tree species. “In early successional temperate forests, symbiotic nitrogen fixation is often the main source of new nitrogen,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Chelcy Miniat. But drought could slow the rate of symbiotic nitrogen fixation,…  More