The Complexities of Longleaf Pine Cone Production

“Longleaf pine forests are among the most important ecosystems in the southeastern United States,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Qinfeng Guo. “However, they have declined dramatically since European settlement and are considered endangered.” Longleaf pine ecosystems once covered an estimated 80 to 90 million acres across the southeastern U.S. – from Virginia to Texas – but…  More 

21st Century Fire Ecology in the South

U.S. Forest Service researchers are using an array of high technologies — high resolution infrared thermography, LiDAR, and photogrammetry — to reach a new level of understanding of the interactions among fuels, fire, and plant diversity that underlie the successful use of prescribed fire in longleaf pine ecosystems. The longleaf pine forests that once covered over 90 million acres…  More 

Under the Longleaf Pine Canopy

Longleaf pine forests once covered over 90 million acres of North America stretching from Texas to Florida to Virginia. However, logging, fire exclusion, and land use change caused the acreage of longleaf pine to shrink to about 2.5 million acres. “Longleaf pine forests are one of the most endangered terrestrial ecosystems in the southeastern United States,”…  More 

Chemical Clues to a Forest’s Past in Nitrogen Isotope Ratios

From the depths of the soil to the top of the atmosphere, nitrogen is everywhere. It is also indispensable to plants and animals. The vast majority of nitrogen atoms contain the same number of uncharged particles. However, a few atoms are ‘stable’ isotopes that have one extra uncharged particle. Although the extra particle adds a miniscule…  More 

Longleaf Pine at a 50-Year High in South Carolina

Efforts to restore longleaf pine forests in South Carolina are proving quite successful, according to data published by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) unit. Longleaf pine forests now occupy less than three percent of an original range estimated at around 92 million acres that once stretched across the coastal plains of…  More 

The Harrison Experimental Forest

Located in the lower Coastal Plain in southeastern Mississippi, the Harrison Experimental Forest (Harrison) was established on the Desoto National Forest in 1934. By that time, vast stands of southern pines, mostly longleaf pine, had been cut from the estimated 31 million acres that made up the southern Coastal Plain forest. Located just north of…  More 

There’s More to Restoration Than Planting Trees

Discussions about longleaf pine restoration tend to focus on planting seedlings, managing hardwood competition, and using prescribed fire, but ecosystem restoration also involves bringing back the groundcover that makes longleaf pine forests some of the richest plant communities on our planet. “The groundcover layer of the longleaf pine forest is truly extraordinary,” says Joan Walker, research plant ecologist with…  More 

Planting Longleaf Pine Following Hurricane Disturbances

Hurricanes and other major storms cause billions of dollars of damage to southern timber resources. If you add the increased risk of wildfire, insect infestations, and disease that accompany downed wood, you have millions of acres of forests vulnerable to further harm. In some areas of the South, one idea for reducing the vulnerability of forests to…  More 

Guidelines for Regenerating Southern Pine Beetle Spots

  Guidelines for Regenerating Southern Pine Beetle Spots, a general technical report (GTR) by the Southern Research Station (SRS),  provides detailed guidance for regenerating pines in areas within forest stands where trees have been killed by southern pine beetle. Authored by scientists from two units located in Pineville, Louisiana—the SRS Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine…  More 

Longleaf Pine Cone Prospects for 2015 and 2016

Dale Brockway, research ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS), recently published his yearly summary of projected longleaf pine cone production for 2015 and 2016. The report shows that the Southeast can expect a poor longleaf pine cone crop in October 2015. “Our estimates show the 2015 crop averaging only 12.4 cones…  More