Megafires, Wildland Fires, and Prescribed Burns

Healthy forests are important for clean and abundant water supplies. A recent USDA Forest Service study examined how wildland fires, including megafires, and prescribed burns affect river flow. The study is the first nationwide look at fire impacts on surface freshwater resources. Led by Dennis Hallema, research hydrologist and ORISE fellow, the research team analyzed…  More 

Saving the Torreya

A century ago, about half a million torreya trees grew in the wild. Today, there are fewer than 1,000. Is extinction imminent, or can the species be saved? “I’m more optimistic now, after the Torreya Tree of Life Workshop,” says USDA Forest Service geneticist Dana Nelson. “The workshop brought a large group of enthusiastic people…  More 

New Book on Restoring Longleaf Pine Ecosystems

A definitive book about longleaf pine ecosystem restoration is now available. Experts from the USDA Forest Service, Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, and many other organizations contributed to the book. Ecological Restoration and Management of Longleaf Pine Forests integrates ecology, hydrology, wildlife, and silviculture. Its seventeen chapters synthesize decades of research on longleaf pine…  More 

Agroforestry Strategies for Landowners

When most people think of livestock and farming, they envision rolling, open fields with cows grazing on green grass. Add trees to that picture, and you have silvopasture — an agroforestry practice that combines livestock and forest management. Chris Fields-Johnson uses agroforestry on his 300-acre loblolly pine forest in Scottsville, VA. He had planned to…  More 

Very Crafty Caterpillars

Butterflies are the charismatic megafauna of the insect world. Who doesn’t admire the stripes on an Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), the eye spots on the Polyphemus moth (Antheraea polyphemus), or the amazing journey of the Monarch (Danaus plexippus), flying from Canada to Mexico to return to a place only known to its great-grandparents? Their…  More 

Why Native Plants Are Best

This article was written to celebrate Native Plant Month in Arkansas. It was originally published in Our Ozarks. In 1733, Peter Collinson, a botanist and cloth merchant, walked with great excitement to the ship docks in London. He picked up two boxes of seeds from an American farmer named John Bartram. With these exotic seeds,…  More 

Post-Fire Mortality for Southern Hardwoods

Drive down Highway 7 in northern Arkansas, winding through the Ozark National Forest, and you may glimpse evidence of recent fire: scorched grass, darkened tree bark, maybe even a lingering wisp of smoke. Traces of prescribed burning can be seen throughout the South. Prescribed fire is a critical tool for forest restoration. A new study…  More 

Protecting Hardwood Resources

Trees provide clean air and water, wildlife habitat, and beauty. Trees are also vital to local economies. “In 2015, Kentucky had 193 hardwood sawmills,” says USDA Forest Service research forester Tom Brandeis. “That same year, Tennessee had 226 hardwood sawmills.” Each state produced more than 700 million board feet of hardwood lumber in 2015. Higher…  More 

Vernal Crayfish Life History and Habitat Use

What to call a freshwater crustacean that resembles a small lobster? USDA Forest Service scientist Zanethia Barnett has a clever answer: “I study crayfish, but I eat crawfish.” More than half of the nation’s 357 species of crayfish — also known as crawdads, mudbugs, or yabbies — can be found in the Southeast. Crayfish break…  More 

Rediscovering the Yalobusha Rivulet Crayfish

In 1989, Joseph Fitzpatrick discovered the Yalobusha rivulet crayfish (Hobbseus yalobushensis). After the species description was published, silence reigned. For the next 29 years, no studies focused on the species. “That’s not uncommon,” says USDA Forest Service aquatic ecologist Susan Adams. “We know very little about the ecology and life history of many crayfish species.”…  More