Very Crafty Caterpillars

Butterflies are the charismatic megafauna of the insect world. Who doesn’t admire the stripes on an Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), the eye spots on the Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus), or the amazing journey of the Monarch (Danaus plexippus), flying from Canada to Mexico to return to a place only known to its great-grandparents? Their…  More 

How Cold Is Too Cold for Redbay Ambrosia Beetles?

Nonnative redbay ambrosia beetles and the fungus they carry have killed hundreds of millions of trees in the Southeast since first detected in 2002. Currently, only cold temperatures limit the beetles’ establishment and spread in the eastern United States. A study led by Mississippi State University involving U.S. Forest Service researchers determined the coldest temperatures…  More 

Do Roads Drive Forest Plant Invasions?

Roads provide a means for moving people and products, but they can also allow hitchhiking organisms to spread. Some exotic invasive plants thrive on the disturbance created by road construction that displaces native plants. However, a new study led by Kurt Riitters, U.S. Forest Service research ecologist with the SRS Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, found…  More 

Invasive Earthworms in the Food Web

Imagine walking through a forest, with leaves crunching beneath your feet. Underneath those crunchy leaves is a complex ecological realm. “Soil is teeming with life,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Mac Callaham. “Most people don’t think about it because they don’t see the soil fauna.” Soil fauna includes centipedes, millipedes, springtails, nematodes, insect larvae,…  More 

National Fish & Aquatic Strategy

The U.S. Forest Service recently completed an updated national fish and aquatic strategy titled Rise to the Future: National Fish and Aquatic Strategy. This plan builds on three decades of success and lessons learned from the original Rise to the Future Fisheries Strategy in 1987. Why does the Forest Service need an updated national fish…  More 

Conserving Eastern Hemlock

Where can you go to find an eastern hemlock tree? Although threatened by the hemlock woolly adelgid, eastern hemlock has an extensive range. “Eastern hemlock grows throughout the southern Appalachians,” says U.S. Forest Service collaborator and ecologist Kevin Potter. Potter is also a forestry faculty member at North Carolina State University. “Hemlock grows in the…  More 

Annual Forest Health Checkup

Insects, diseases, droughts, and fire threaten forests. Each year, the U.S. Forest Service assesses threats facing the nation’s forests. Forest managers, scientists, and decision-makers rely on the annual reports. SRS recently published the 2016 Forest Health Monitoring report. The report is the 16th in the annual series, and is sponsored by the FS Forest Health…  More 

SRS Researcher Receives Grant to Study White-Nose Syndrome

White-nose syndrome (WNS) has killed more than six million bats over the past decade. WNS is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd). Studies show that bats eat enough insect pests to save the U.S. corn industry more than $1 billion a year in crop damage and pesticide costs, and more than $3 billion per…  More 

Plant Invasion Patterns at Global and Regional Scales

From the moment of colonization, humans have carried non-native plants around the world with them. “The introductions are changing the world’s biogeography,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Qinfeng Guo. “Understanding the mechanisms behind invasion patterns is critically important.” Invasion patterns vary depending on the scale. At finer scales, invasions are often related to competition.…  More 

30 Years of Nitrogen Fertilization in Spruce-Fir Forest

Rocks and sediments bind up almost 98 percent of all nitrogen. The remaining 2 percent is in motion, part of a global chemical cycle that includes humans, bacteria, plants, and the atmosphere. “Plants need nitrogen to grow,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Steve McNulty. “However, excess nitrogen can harm plants.” Nitrogen and sulfur can…  More