Formidable Forest Shrubs Affect Tree Height and Biomass

Forests are made of three-dimensional life forms that constantly interact with each other and with the abiotic factors in their environment. A recent study shows how complex those interactions can be. “Trees growing within an evergreen shrub layer can be almost 20 feet shorter than trees without a shrub layer,” says USDA Forest Service scientist…  More 

Tribal Wetlands Training

In June, seven representatives of five Tribal Nations joined USDA Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers experts for the Tribal Wetlands Training workshop, hosted by the United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. Where does a wetland begin or end? Delineating the boundaries of a wetland is difficult. “Our goal was to help participants –…  More 

Long-Term Research Yields Understanding and Insights

Gaze at a painting for long enough, and you may notice details that you didn’t see right away: light, movement, and texture. This happens with research data, too. “At Coweeta, we all talk about how everything fits together,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Jennifer Knoepp. “We have been analyzing long-term watershed data for more than…  More 

Forests Supply Water to Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s forests are still recovering from Hurricane Maria. Local scientists estimate that one out of five trees in the El Yunque National Forest were lost during or after the storm. Widespread forest restoration and monitoring efforts are underway. But that work isn’t focused on just the trees in those forests — water supply is an important ecosystem…  More 

Projections of Future Climate and Annual Runoff

Hydrologists have traditionally relied on historic precipitation data to estimate broad-scale runoff. “Rainfall was always number one,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Ge Sun. “But things are changing and getting more complicated.” Sun co-authored a recent modeling study that investigated how other climate factors might influence future changes in runoff. The researchers were intrigued by…  More 

Megafires, Wildland Fires, and Prescribed Burns

Healthy forests are important for clean and abundant water supplies. A recent USDA Forest Service study examined how wildland fires, including megafires, and prescribed burns affect river flow. The study is the first nationwide look at fire impacts on surface freshwater resources. Led by Dennis Hallema, research hydrologist and ORISE fellow, the research team analyzed…  More 

The Future of Fish in the NC Piedmont

What will fish communities of the North Carolina Piedmont look like in the future? “Many factors could affect this,” says U.S. Forest Service research hydrologist Peter Caldwell. “Water withdrawals could be one of the most important.” Water withdrawn from rivers may eventually flow out of kitchen faucets. Many municipalities get drinking water from rivers and…  More 

Daily Precipitation Patterns Are Changing at Coweeta

Since 1950, heavy rains have become more common in the southern Appalachians. U.S. Forest Service researchers have witnessed such changes at Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory. Coweeta was established in 1934. Its location in the mountains of western North Carolina is no accident – early Forest Service researchers strategically selected it. “Coweeta receives as much as 90…  More 

Urban Forests & Stormwater Management

Raindrops that land on trees may never hit the ground. “Trees intercept a significant amount of rain,” says U.S. Forest Service science delivery specialist Eric Kuehler. Once intercepted by a leaf or branch, some rain evaporates. Some trickles down the tree’s stem and seeps into the soil. “Soil is the best place to store water,”…  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