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 

SRS Releases American Chestnut Course

The American chestnut (Castanea dentata) was an iconic tree that is now functionally extinct. For a hundred years, researchers from multiple organizations have been working to restore this tree. A free online course – An Introduction to the American Chestnut – is now available. The course covers chestnut taxonomy, silvics, historical importance, ecology, and its…  More 

Detecting the Pathogen That Stalks the Endangered Florida Torreya

Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia) is a critically endangered conifer tree in swift decline since the 1950s. The torreya fungus (Fusarium torreyae) is currently devastating the remaining Florida torreya population. The fungus forms cankers, or localized dead areas, that damage branch or trunk tissue and eventually kill the trees. In the face of extinction from this…  More 

A Yearly Health Checkup for U.S. Forests

Every year, the USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) program tracks changing forest conditions, including national assessments as well as focused regional analysis. The resulting report is the only national summary of forest health undertaken on an annual basis. Forests constantly change as a result of tree growth and mortality, weather events and climate…  More 

Hitchhiking Seeds Pose Substantial Risk of Nonnative Plant Invasions

Seeds that float in the air can hitchhike in unusual places – like the air-intake grille of a refrigerated shipping container. A team of researchers from the USDA Forest Service, Arkansas State University, and other organizations recently conducted a study that involved vacuuming seeds from air-intake grilles over two seasons at the Port of Savannah,…  More 

New Manager’s Guide for Controlling Hemlock Woolly Adelgids

An Eastern hemlock can live for 800 years, anchoring ecosystems from its roots to its branches. But a bug that’s a speck by the eye can kill these giants in just a few years. Foresters, entomologists, silviculturists, physiologists, and other experts have been working together to keep hemlock trees alive and reduce the impact of…  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 

Wood-Boring Beetles Not the Primary Cause of Sugarberry Mortality

In the past decade, sugarberry trees (Celtis laevigata) have been rapidly declining throughout South Carolina and Georgia. Alongside University of Georgia researcher Emilee Poole, USDA Forest Service scientists Scott Horn, Michael Ulyshen, and others studied the distribution and biology of the wood-boring beetle Agrilus macer to determine its role in recent sugarberry mortality. Using sugarberry…  More 

E-Noses Detect Emerald Ash Borer Larvae

Electronic noses are sensitive to a vast suite of volatile organic compounds that every living organism emits. A new USDA Forest Service study shows that e-noses can detect emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) larvae lurking under the bark – an early, noninvasive detection method. “The results were quite spectacular,” says Dan Wilson, a research plant…  More