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 

Sustainable Growth & the Future of Forested Watersheds

Forests provide high quality and dependable supplies of surface water. More than 19 million people in the Southeast get at least some of their drinking water from national forests, as U.S. Forest Service research revealed. However, most forest land in the Southeast U.S. is privately owned. Such land could be converted to other uses in…  More 

Fish Production in Southern Appalachians

Packing on the pounds – or ounces – indicates that fish have what they need to survive and grow. “Fish production is a great way to estimate ecosystem productivity,” says U.S. Forest Service researcher Andy Dolloff. Production refers to how quickly fish gain weight and grow in size. “Production is a function of how many…  More 

Generalist No More

Although the Yazoo Darter (Etheostoma raneyi) was previously thought to be a habitat generalist able to thrive in a variety of conditions, U.S. Forest Service scientists Kenneth Sterling and Melvin Warren guessed differently. “Literature suggested the darter was a generalist, but details at small spatial scales were lacking for its sand-bottom stream habitat in the…  More 

Black Locust & Drought Tolerance

By affecting plant growth, drought could potentially affect the nitrogen cycle too. “Some plants – with help from their bacterial companions – can fix atmospheric nitrogen,” says U.S. Forest Service researcher and project leader Chelcy Miniat. Atmospheric nitrogen gas, or N2, is plentiful. This form of nitrogen is inaccessible to most plants. However, legumes such…  More 

Air, Water, and Wavelets

We know air temperature has increased over the last 15-20 years, and that it will continue to do so on an unprecedented scale. But we are still learning exactly how this air trend impacts water. As it turns out, air temperature is linked to changes in our streams — affecting things like flow, soil moisture,…  More 

Mountain Roads and Erosion

Forests on mountaintops may seem remote. “However, millions of people rely on these forested headwater watersheds for their drinking water,” says Johnny Grace. “For many people in the Southeastern U.S., high-elevation forests are where clean drinking water originates.” Grace is a general engineer at the U.S. Forest Service, and he recently studied forest roads and…  More 

Topography and Drought

The planet is changing, and the hydrologic cycle will change along with it. Extreme droughts – as well as extremely wet weather – are expected to become more frequent and more intense. “These changes may interact with topography to affect species composition in unexpected ways,” says Chelcy Miniat. Miniat is a researcher and project leader…  More 

Mangroves of Mozambique

Whether small and shrubby or tall and majestic, mangroves have an unusual ability – they are specially adapted to grow in brackish water, and can tolerate ocean waves lapping at their stilt-like roots. As stands mature, soil and decaying plant matter becomes captured in the intricate web of their roots. “The soil in mangrove ecosystems…  More 

Forests, Farms, or Houses?

Molecules relentlessly cycle from one form to another. “Simple human activities, such as building homes, can affect these cycles,” says U.S. Forest Service research soil scientist Jennifer Knoepp. For example, trees growing near streams affect the way nitrogen and other nutrients move from the land to the water. “Riparian zones play a critical role in…  More