Groundwater Recharge in the Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley

The Lower Mississippi River Alluvial Valley is a floodplain that spans seven states. It is suffering from groundwater depletion – a long-term water level decline due to human use. Irrigation and overuse of water resources have led to a seven meter drop in groundwater levels from 1987 to 2014. Water from precipitation and other sources…  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 

Past Partial-Cutting Techniques More Beneficial Than Past Clear-Cutting

What is the most sustainable way to harvest a forest? A team led by USDA Forest Service scientists Katherine Elliott and Chelcy Miniat, along with Forest Service intern Andrea Medenblik, tries to answer this question. Data were analyzed from a long-term study looking at the biomass effects of partial-cutting versus clear-cutting in different watersheds in…  More 

Snorkel Education Program

A watery world lies next to ours, and it’s inhabited by fish, mussels, and aquatic plants and insects. Snorkeling is a way to visit this realm. “Snorkeling is how managers and researchers have done fish surveys for decades,” says Craig Roghair, a USDA Forest Service fisheries biologist. From these surveys, a snorkel education program emerged.…  More 

Closer to Understanding Enigmatic Mussel Declines

Just by existing and eating, mussels improve water quality. They are filter feeders, which means they eat small pieces of organic matter that float past them. But mussels are dying, often in streams that otherwise seem healthy. Many streams that formerly supported diverse mussel communities now are essentially defaunated. These events are enigmatic because other…  More 

Black Locust & Drought

With its symbiotic bacteria, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) makes its own nitrogen fertilizer – and can share it with other tree species. “In early successional temperate forests, symbiotic nitrogen fixation is often the main source of new nitrogen,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Chelcy Miniat. But drought could slow the rate of symbiotic nitrogen fixation,…  More 

Wetland Silviculture & Water Tables

Water tables are everywhere, but their levels fluctuate – especially in the poorly drained clay soils of coastal South Carolina. Topography also affects water tables, and forested wetlands in the Coastal Plain tend to be flat. “They respond rapidly to rainfall and evapotranspiration,” says Devendra Amatya, a USDA Forest Service research hydrologist. Amatya is on…  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 

Study Wins Water Resources Research Editor’s Choice Award

Over the last three decades, forest vegetation has begun using significantly more water, as long-term climate and streamflow data reveal. USDA Forest Service scientists Jim Vose and Dave Wear contributed to the study, which was led by Taehee Hwang, an assistant professor at the University of Indiana. The findings were published in the journal Water…  More 

Coweeta Interns Showcase Research at Symposium

The USDA Forest Service Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory has a long history. At a recent tour there, I was regaled with tales of how their meteorological measuring site had been there since the 1930s, when the lab was established in the western North Carolina mountains. A quaint, aged wooden enclosure akin to a birdhouse provided cover…  More