Prevention is Key: Lessons from Laurel Wilt

Since 2002, forests in the southeastern U.S. have struggled against a disease called laurel wilt. In 18 years, laurel wilt has spread to 11 southeastern states and killed hundreds of millions of trees. A review article by USDA Forest Service scientist Rabiu Olatinwo reflects on the origins and spread of laurel wilt throughout the last…  More 

Fast, Field-Based Diagnosis of Laurel Wilt Disease

The redbay ambrosia beetle (Xyleborus glabratus) and a fungal pathogen (Raffaelea lauricola) were first introduced to the U.S. in the early 2000s. Since then, the deadly duo known as laurel wilt disease has cause widespread mortality among redbay (Persea borbonia), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), and avocado (Persea americana) trees in the southeastern U.S. A team of…  More 

Pathways to Climate Safety

When forest animals need to leave their home territories, because of climate change impacts like drought, flooding, or heat or because humans are moving in, where do they go? They need a habitat corridor or pathway – with tree cover, food, and water – to protect them on their journey to a nearby suitable habitat.…  More 

Mapping Disturbances to Protect the Future of Our Forests

Our forests are changing rapidly, and with this comes the need to both understand and track how and where this change is happening. Monitoring forest disturbances is critical for effective decision making, yet our ability to do so was largely insufficient until recently. Researchers can now track a significant amount of these changes with new…  More 

One Acorn, Two Acorns, Three Acorns, Four…

By lying on your back under an oak tree, you can look up and estimate its number of acorns. But why? “A lot of state wildlife agencies do acorn surveys annually because hunters want to know crop sizes, which fluctuate like crazy from year to year, among different oak species, and among locations,” says USDA…  More 

Which Comes First, the Acorn or the Tree?

Acorns feed birds, bears, deer, and many small mammals. But the big oak trees that produce those acorns are also harvested to become timber. In managing hardwood forests, there’s a potential trade-off between harvesting oak trees for their valuable wood and reducing the number of oak trees left to produce acorns. To help determine a…  More 

100 Years of Forest Service Research in the South

In 2021, the Southern Research Station and all of USDA Forest Service celebrates the centennial of Forest Service research in the South. On July 1, 1921, the Forest Service established two new experiment stations. They were modest operations. The Southern Forest Experiment Station, headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana, had only five employees. The Appalachian Forest…  More 

Which Bat Is That? The Smell Will Tell

For the first time, people can distinguish one bat species from another by smell alone. Scientists from the USDA Forest Service and Arkansas State University found that a new, portable electronic nose (e-nose) device is capable of distinguishing between bat species by their smells. This study is part of a larger effort to help bats…  More 

Prescribed Fire Effects on Soil Fertility

USDA Forest Service researcher John Butnor wondered how dormant-season prescribed fire affects forest soil fertility in the months after a burn. Do nutrients from burned pine straw, grasses, and woody debris remain in the forest? Others have studied soil a year or more after a prescribed burn. Butnor’s research compares soil chemistry before burning and…  More 

Science in Practice Webinars

Last year, USDA Forest Service scientist Stephanie Laseter launched a webinar series called Science in Practice. In her role as a liaison between the Southern Research Station and Southern Region of the National Forest System, Laseter links SRS researchers and their recent findings with land managers in the Region and across the Southern Group of…  More