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 

Controlling the Spread of Callery Pear

Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) can be found across most of the eastern U.S. and in a few western states as well. The nonnative tree was brought to the U.S. in 1917 by a USDA employee searching for a blight-resistant species that could be bred with European pear to increase fruit production. The most common Callery…  More 

Mechanical Fuel Reduction Costs

Mitigating wildfire risk is a land management priority across the U.S. Reducing fuel loads through mechanical treatments can control understory and midstory vegetation and prevent fuel ladders that can spread fire from ground vegetation up into the canopy crown. A book chapter by USDA Forest Service scientists Dana Mitchell and Mathew Smidt summarizes costs, benefits,…  More 

Silviculture for Open Forests

Grassy oak savannas and sunny pine woodlands were once a common sight across the eastern U.S. These open forests have fewer large trees in the overstory and a bounty of native grasses and flowering plants in the understory. Frequent fire limited tree regrowth and created the open canopy. USDA Forest Service scientist Don Bragg and…  More 

Climate Change and Red Spruce

Red spruce faces a variety of challenges in the southern Appalachians — from past exploitative logging to land use change and forest fragmentation, and now climate change. A three-year study funded by the National Science Foundation is investigating historic red spruce decline in abundance and range shifts — as well as how those shifts might…  More 

Forest Landowners and State Property Tax Programs

Every state in the U.S. has a property tax program that lowers taxes for forest landowners. Greg Frey and Stephanie Snyder of the USDA Forest Service, with Justin Meier, Michael Kilgore, and Charlie Blinn of the University of Minnesota recently published two papers that build on their previous analysis of all fifty state property tax…  More 

Wildfire Recovery Hot Moments

Disasters can be catalysts for change. As wildfires become more common, an emerging objective is to make communities fire-adapted, where ecological benefits of fire can be realized while minimizing threats to life and property. Yet questions remain as to when and how such community change takes place. Recent research by Ronald Schumann of University of…  More 

QUIC-Fire: A Fast Tool for Prescribed Fire Planning

Predicting fire behavior is complicated. Current modeling tools work to balance the interplay between many different factors including weather conditions and vegetation structure. Yet these tools are often underutilized because they require high-performance computing resources. Rodman Linn from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, with expertise from SRS researchers Scott Goodrick and Joe O’Brien and additional…  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