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 

Stream Crossings and Water Quality

In many situations, the adage “dirt doesn’t hurt” is true. One important exception is when soils erode, and rain washes the sediments into streams. Johnny Boggs, a biological scientist with the U.S. Forest Service Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, recently led a study on preventing stream sedimentation in forests. Sedimentation impacts water quality and can…  More 

Switchgrass in Pine Plantations

In the southeastern U.S., loblolly pine plantations cover about 37 million acres of land. “Growing switchgrass in loblolly pine plantations could provide a sustainable source of biomass for cellulosic energy,” says U.S. Forest Service research hydrologist Devendra Amatya. “Growing the two species together could also help maintain the economic and environmental benefits of a forest…  More 

New Forest, New Water Yield

Today, forests abound in the southern Appalachians. However, there was a time in the early 1900s when many forests were harvested or cleared so that the land could be used to grow crops or provide pasture. “The forests that have returned may use water differently,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Katherine Elliott. Elliott and…  More 

Estimating Ecosystem Water Use

For more than a decade, U.S. Forest Service and Chinese scientists have collaborated to understand how human activities affect carbon and water cycles in managed ecosystems. Working through the U.S.-China Carbon Consortium, scientists share data from a network of eddy covariance flux towers across the two countries. The towers measure the flow of water vapor,…  More 

Air Pollution Could Worsen Water Shortages in a Changing Climate

Over the past 40 years since the passage of the Clean Air Act, air pollution from automobiles, factories, and power plants has substantially decreased, leading to better human and environmental health. But air pollution and its impacts on people and ecosystems remain a concern amid growing demands for transportation, energy, and manufactured goods. University and…  More 

Mississippi Alluvial Valley Forests

The Southern Forest Futures Project (SFFP) started as an effort to study and understand the various forces reshaping the forests across the 13 states of the Southeast. Chartered by the U.S. Forest Service Southern Region and Southern Research Station (SRS) along with the Southern Group of State Foresters, the project examined a variety of possible…  More 

White Pines, Hemlocks, and Sunlight

The Blue Valley Experimental Forest (Blue Valley) lies in southwest North Carolina in the Nantahala National Forest. Located in Macon County, near the point where North Carolina meets Georgia and South Carolina, the experimental forest was established in 1964. At 1,300 acres, it is the smallest of the three experimental forests in North Carolina and the second smallest…  More 

Mount Ascutney Visitors Enjoy the View and Learn Something, Too

Over the past decade, countless visitors on southeastern Vermont’s Mount Ascutney have read the words on two interpretive panels describing ongoing research that began as a graduate student’s research project there. Through the years, the panels have faded and weathered, but now they are new again after U.S. Forest Service researchers installed updated replacements in…  More