Managed fires

Fire is a natural ecosystem process. Many land managers in the southeastern U.S. understand that prescribed burning as an essential tool for restoring and maintaining biodiversity in fire-adapted forests and grasslands. The role of wildfire, however, is less widely accepted as a means to maintain healthy, resilient ecosystems. The term wildfire implies a fire that…  More 

Without fire, trees become more susceptible to it

Historically, fires frequently burned Southern Appalachian forests. Many tree species evolved traits that aided survival in this fire environment. However, with the exclusion of fire from these forests for many decades, new research suggests traits that once made trees resistant to fire may now make them more susceptible to it. USDA Forest Service scientists Melanie…  More 

Prescribed fire history affects pollinator diversity in southern forests

Landscapes with diverse fire histories – or pyrodiverse landscapes – have higher diversity of pollinators, as a recent study by USDA Forest Service scientist Michael Ulyshen shows. The study was published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. Tall Timbers Research Station, the study location, is nestled in the Red Hills Ecoregion of the Coastal…  More 

Mind the gap? Pines love it!

  The bigger the gap the more pines grow Especially when site treatment keeps hardwood growth slow But if a mixedwood stand Is the forest we desire Advanced hardwood regen Should be allowed to grow higher. USDA Forest Service scientist Don Bragg collaborated on a study recently published in Forest Ecology and Management that considered…  More 

Top ten of 2021

We hope you enjoy this collection of the most popular CompassLive stories of 2021. Each article highlights the people, partnerships, and natural wonders of the South. For the past century, USDA Forest Service research has contributed to healthier, more sustainable southern forests.   ______________________ One acorn, two acorns, three acorns, four… How to evaluate acorn crops  Every year, state wildlife…  More 

Longleaf pines & fire in the growing season

Prescribed fire every two years had no impact on the growth or survival of mature longleaf pines – even when prescribed fire was conducted in the growing season, finds long-term experiment. USDA Forest Service scientist John Willis led a study comparing stands of Pinus palustris burned in winter, spring, and summer. Summer lightning often ignites…  More 

New Sapwood Challenges “Perfect Storm” of Pine Fungal Infection

Loblolly pine trees may tolerate some fungal infection if they can form new sapwood. USDA Forest Service plant physiologist Mary Anne Sword Sayer, on a team with Ph.D. candidate John K. Mensah of Auburn University’s Forest Health Cooperative, conducted two studies in Alabama, one of young trees and one of mature trees. Loblolly pine (Pinus…  More 

Shortleaf Pine Plantings from 1980s Can Guide Restoration

About forty years ago, 155 plots of shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) were planted in national forests across the USDA Forest Service Southern Region. The original purpose was progeny testing, but as decades passed, the study was largely abandoned. However, many of the stands remained and kept growing. In 2018, researchers evaluated 15 of the surviving…  More 

Seed Size & Predation

Among their many benefits, prescribed fires can protect southeastern pine woodlands from encroachment – the process of fire-sensitive species expanding into fire-maintained woodlands. Because fire is important for longleaf pine regeneration, forest researchers have studied the effects of flammability on the pine woodlands. In a recent study published in in Applied Vegetation Science, USDA Forest…  More 

History of Forest Research in the South, 1921-1933

For 40 years, Philip Wakeley researched southern pines for the USDA Forest Service. Wakeley was one of the first Forest Service R&D employees in the South. He began his career in 1924, at the Southern Forest Experiment Station in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Station was established in 1921, and in the 1990s would merge with…  More