Managing Drought in Forest Ecosystems

More wildfire. More insects and diseases. Less predictable timber supply. Less predictable water supply. Changing wildlife habitat. Severe drought can cause all of these impacts, and more. USDA Forest Service scientists and partners have created a new resource to help land managers anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from drought. “Maintaining healthy and diverse…  More 

Assessing the Health of U.S. Forests

Forests are complex ecosystems. They are constantly changing as a result of tree growth, variations in weather and climate, and disturbances from fire, pathogens, and other stressors. The USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program tracks these ongoing changes — every year, across the nation — as a forest health check up. The 2018…  More 

Coastal Forests Face Rising Sea Levels, Increased Salinity

Ghost forests aren’t some spooky legend. They’re patches of dead and dying trees that haunt the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia where sea levels are rising and land is sinking. USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service scientists are working with partners across the coastal plain to understand where these watery…  More 

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 

Redbay Ambrosia Beetle in Sassafras & Redbay

Redbay ambrosia beetles (Xyleborus glabratus) reproduce best in wood that’s dead or dying, according to a recent USDA Forest Service study. “Redbay trees that have just died from laurel wilt are incredibly attractive to redbay ambrosia beetles,” says SRS plant pathologist Stephen Fraedrich. “A redbay tree that has recently died can attract thousands of beetles.”…  More 

Countering Thousand Cankers Disease

In recent decades, thousand cankers disease has become a concern for walnut growers and hardwood forest managers in the United States. A variety of measures have been investigated or developed to counter the disease. A study led by USDA Forest Service research entomologist Albert Mayfield and former University of Tennessee graduate student Jackson Audley looked…  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 

Uncovering Urban Forests

The scope of forest-pest risk analysis research is often limited to natural forests. Neglected are those tree communities called urban forests: trees within the boundaries of a city or populated area. Urban trees see a significant proportion of the impacts from invasive pests. Their unnatural distribution and close proximity to transported goods and other means…  More 

Effects of Forest Fragmentation and Restoration on Invasive Species

Managing invasive species is one of the largest challenges that land managers face. They threaten the health of natural ecosystems, prevent the growth of native species, and leave landowners with significant amounts of damage. “More than 4,300 exotic plant species and 66 foreign pest species that can cause negative effects on forest ecosystems and economies…  More 

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