Prevention is Key: Lessons from Laurel Wilt

Since 2002, forests in the southeastern U.S. have struggled against a disease called laurel wilt. In 18 years, laurel wilt has spread to 11 southeastern states and killed hundreds of millions of trees. A review article by USDA Forest Service scientist Rabiu Olatinwo reflects on the origins and spread of laurel wilt throughout the last…  More 

Fast, Field-Based Diagnosis of Laurel Wilt Disease

The redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus) and a fungal pathogen (Raffaelea lauricola) were first introduced to the U.S. in the early 2000s. Since then, the deadly duo known as laurel wilt disease has cause widespread mortality among redbay (Persea borbonia), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), and avocado (Persea americana) trees in the southeastern U.S. A team of…  More 

New Species Named After SRS Research Entomologist

Twenty-five years ago, Brian Sullivan saw a fungus growing in bark alongside the small southern pine engraver (Ips avulsus). The beetle is native to the U.S. and commonly kills stressed pine trees. Sullivan, a USDA Forest Service research entomologist, examined the fungus. He identified its genus but could not identify the species – the fungus…  More 

Chinese Privet, Arthropods, and Bees

Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) is one of the worst invasive plants in the South. It dominates the shrub layer and often becomes the only shrub underneath trees, especially in streamside areas. But insects and spiders living in fallen leaves and leaf litter were not affected by a privet invasion in Georgia, as a recent study…  More 

New Resource on Invasive Species

Eastern hemlock, American chestnut, sassafras, redbay, every member of the ash family, and many others are plagued by non-native invasive species. A new book synthesizes current science on species invading U.S. forests, grasslands, and waterways. The book was published by Springer, and the entire book is available to download. The book covers invasive species of…  More 

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