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 

Scientists Share Knowledge on Sustaining Oak at Symposium

For the first time since 2002, scientists and land managers met to share knowledge on sustaining and conserving oak forests in the eastern U.S. The oak symposium was held October 2017 in Knoxville, Tennessee and hosted by The University of Tennessee Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries. The meeting featured 33 invited speakers, an audience…  More 

Carbon Pools and Fluxes in Southern Appalachian Forests

An estimated 35 percent of the global terrestrial carbon is stored in soil and biotic carbon pools, such as forests. These pools can store or release carbon. Because forests store immense amounts of carbon, forest management is becoming part of efforts to increase carbon sequestration and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Long-term research from the USDA…  More 

Darter Conservation

Increasingly, recovery plans for imperiled fish species include raising them in captivity and releasing them in the wild. Crystal Ruble of Conservation Fisheries, Inc, with SRS researchers Ken Sterling and Melvin Warren published a protocol for captive propagation of the Yazoo Darter (Etheostoma raneyi). The researchers also summarize its early life-history. Compared to other darter…  More 

When Birds Attack Snakes

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s … birds attacking a Jamaican boa? In a recent study by USDA Forest Service scientists Richard Schaefer and Craig Rudolph (retired), along with colleagues from Jamaica and Washington, DC, the previously undocumented mobbing of Jamaican boas is brought to scientific light. The act of multiple birds screeching…  More 

Assessing Surface Water Quality in the Mississippi Delta

USDA Forest Service scientists are measuring surface water quality in the Big Sunflower River watershed of the Mississippi Delta to better understand eutrophication of the Gulf of Mexico. Extensive crop production contributes nutrients and suspended solids and leads to concerns about low dissolved oxygen and pathogens. Ying Ouyang, Ted Leininger, and colleagues monitored water quality…  More