Prioritizing Ecological Restoration

If ecological restoration is your vocation, think: location, location, location. The practice of assisting in the recovery of a degraded or damaged ecosystem, ecological restoration on a targeted site is a piece of a larger puzzle. “Many scientists and managers recognize the importance of the surrounding landscape because this context often determines the success of…  More 

American Chestnuts in the Field

By the 1950s, two non-native pathogens had killed almost all American chestnut trees. “There’s a lot of interest in breeding a chestnut that looks like American chestnut with the disease resistance of Chinese chestnut,” says U.S. Forest Service research forester Stacy Clark. “However, there hasn’t been much research on reintroducing disease-resistant trees to the forest.”…  More 

Longleaf Pine Cone Prospects for 2017 and 2018

How many pine cones can managers expect from their longleaf pine forests? Every year, U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Dale Brockway attempts to answer this question. His most recent report suggests that 2017 will be a good year for longleaf pine cone production. “Across the region, we expect longleaf pines to produce an average of…  More 

Fire Frequency & Hardwood Regeneration

The mighty oak is a critical component of southern forests—for wildlife habitat, acorn production, and hardwood timber—but forests are changing, and its future is uncertain. A long-running U.S. Forest Service experiment studied the use of prescribed fire to control competition from shade-tolerant tree species like red maple, American beech, and blackgum. The study area, located on…  More 

Hybrids in the Seed Orchards

Shortleaf pine is under siege, and one of the threats has emerged in seed orchards. “In some shortleaf seed orchards, 10 percent of trees are hybrids,” says U.S. Forest Service research geneticist Dana Nelson. “Although the majority we’d consider shortleaf pine, even a few hybrids is enough to raise concern.” To some extent, shortleaf and…  More 

Restoration in the Understory

Some plants are homebodies and refuse to thrive in new areas. “Plants have unique abilities to thrive where they grow but moving plants outside their genetically adapted environment might cause them not to grow as well,” says Joan Walker, SRS research plant ecologist. The U.S. Forest Service, led by Walker, is partnering with federal and state…  More 

Unexpected Pest of Chestnut Trees

SRS research entomologist Bud Mayfield was relieved to find that defoliation on an American chestnut planting site was not as severe as expected. Mayfield and SRS research forester Stacy Clark are coauthors on a paper in the Journal of Insect Science that describes a study they conducted with Ashley Case, an adjunct lecturer at the University…  More 

New Forest, New Water Yield

Today, forests abound in the southern Appalachians. However, there was a time in the early 1900s when many forests were harvested or cleared so that the land could be used to grow crops or provide pasture. “The forests that have returned may use water differently,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Katherine Elliott. Elliott and…  More 

Longleaf Pine Silviculture

By best estimate, longleaf pine forests once spanned over 90 million acres – an area more than twice the size of Georgia. “Today, 97 percent of these forests are gone,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Dale Brockway. “However, the longleaf pine ecosystems that remain are home to a very diverse community of plants and…  More 

Oaks, an Unrecognized Ally in Longleaf Pine Restoration

Longleaf pine ecosystems are among the most threatened in the U.S., and managers across the southeast are prioritizing longleaf restoration. The conventional approach calls for removing hardwood trees such as oak. “Hardwood reduction techniques are commonly deemed necessary for ecological restoration of longleaf pine ecosystems,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Louise Loudermilk. “Hardwoods are…  More