How Do Weather, Insects, and Diseases Impact Forests? It Depends

Forests of the southern U.S. are among the most productive and intensively managed in the world. Disturbances naturally alter forest stands, sometimes creating conditions that benefit plant or animal communities, but can cause major economic losses to landowners. What’s more, the impacts from one disturbance may invite other disturbances – dead and damaged trees can…  More 

Top Ten of 2020

As 2020 comes to an end, it is a good time to gather our most-read CompassLive stories from the past year. Each one highlights the work of USDA Forest Service scientists at the Southern Research Station. We hope you enjoy reading this collection, which includes the most popular of 2020 plus a few more that…  More 

Impacts of Urbanization on U.S. Watersheds

Urbanization is inevitable with a growing population, but what consequences does this have for the water we rely on? Cheng Li, a former visiting scholar at North Carolina State University from the Guangdong Academy of Sciences, along with USDA Forest Service scientists Ge Sun, Peter Caldwell, and Erika Mack modeled the effects of urbanization on…  More 

Hemlock Woolly Adelgids & Their Predator Beetle, Laricobius nigrinus

Laricobius nigrinus is a small beetle that eats an even smaller bug – the hemlock woolly adelgid, or HWA. Since 2003, Laricobius has been used to help control HWA. But the beetle, which is native to western North America, is only active during the fall, winter and early spring. Recently, USDA Forest Service research entomologist…  More 

Climate Change, Streamflow, and Social Vulnerability: Locating Increased Risks

What happens when climate change or urbanization increases the frequency or severity of floods? How well can different downstream communities prepare for and respond to those catastrophic events? USDA Forest Service scientists and approached these questions in a new way. They developed a risk matrix that pairs the likelihood of high streamflow events – which…  More 

Modeling Study on Cattle Feed Crops & River Flow Depletion

A new study uses a USDA Forest Service modeling tool – the Water Supply Stress Index, or WaSSI, ecosystem services model – to explore the relationship between water use, river flows, and fish populations across the conterminous U.S. Brian Richter from the University of Virginia led the study. SRS researcher Peter Caldwell’s expertise with WaSSI…  More 

Bat Survival in Arkansas Mines

White-nose syndrome has been spreading through U.S. bat populations since 2006 and has caused mass die-offs in various regions of the country. The syndrome is caused by Pd (Pseudogymnoascus destructans), a fungus that invades the skin of bats while they hibernate. White-nose syndrome (WNS) symptoms include dehydration and irritation. These symptoms awake the bats frequently…  More 

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