Insights from the 2016 Southern Appalachian Wildfires

Depending on their timing and location, fires can destroy or restore, with little gray area in between. In the early fall of 2016, one specific fire event in Southern Appalachia was unlike any other in recent decades, leaving behind unprecedented devastation once the fire had ceased. From this disastrous fire season comes a recent report…  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 

Bat Survival in Arkansas Mines

White-nose syndrome has been spreading through U.S. bat populations since 2006 and has caused mass die-offs in various regions of the country. The syndrome is caused by Pd (Pseudogymnoascus destructans), a fungus that invades the skin of bats while they hibernate. White-nose syndrome (WNS) symptoms include dehydration and irritation. These symptoms awake the bats frequently…  More 

Bees of Longleaf Pine Forests

Old-growth, or primary forests, are classified as having very little human disturbance — and thus they provide a unique opportunity to study life in relatively unchanged settings. Previous research suggests that these ecosystems may provide critical habitat for sensitive species that are absent or rare in other places. However, past studies comparing bee biodiversity in…  More 

Appalachian-Cumberland Meeting Addresses State and National Forest Partners’ Research Needs

In early March the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station hosted its first joint State Line and Green Line Meeting. Approximately 60 state and national forest partners attended the two-day meeting held in Johnson City, Tennessee to learn about a variety of SRS research topics relevant to their specific needs and the Appalachian-Cumberland region. SRS…  More 

Satellite Mapping of Forest Disturbances Can Help When Field Efforts Are Restricted

A large number of tornadoes struck the Southeast in the spring of 2020. Ordinarily, aerial surveillance and field crews would assess forest damage after windstorms and other disturbances, but the COVID-19 pandemic has limited those operations. USDA Forest Service scientists are showing that, with recent technological advances, disturbance impacts can nonetheless be rapidly mapped at…  More 

New Zones Delineate Seed Source Regions

Plant seeds are the crucial starting point for innumerable conservation projects, from backyard butterfly gardens to large reforestation projects. For the USDA Forest Service and its many partners, tree, shrub, and herbaceous plants’ seeds and seedlings are needed in large numbers for forest restoration and land management work. “In any such effort, it is important…  More 

Inventorying an ‘Industrial Flora’

Shipping containers are stacked like Legos. From all over the world, they have arrived at the Garden City Terminal, at the Port of Savannah in Georgia. About a third of the plant species growing there are also from around the world – they are non-native. Some are new to Georgia and the U.S. altogether. That’s…  More 

Closer to Understanding Enigmatic Mussel Declines

Just by existing and eating, mussels improve water quality. They are filter feeders, which means they eat small pieces of organic matter that float past them. But mussels are dying, often in streams that otherwise seem healthy. Many streams that formerly supported diverse mussel communities now are essentially defaunated. These events are enigmatic because other…  More 

White Oak Regeneration in Canopy Gaps

In February 2020, USDA Forest Service scientist Stacy Clark planted 720 white oak (Quercus alba) seedlings on the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina. “White oak is declining in abundance across the eastern U.S., and we are concerned that wildlife species and industries around cooperages, distilleries, and flooring will be negatively affected without proactive…  More