Electrofishing for Crayfish

Since its origin, more than 40,000 years ago, fishing has taken a variety of forms — from spearing to hook-and-line fishing. In the 1960s, scientists began using a method called “electrofishing” to study aquatic populations. In a study published in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management, USDA Forest Service scientist Zanethia Barnett researched the…  More 

Shifting to a Bioeconomy

Forests and trees have always been crucial to people’s food security, nutrition, and culinary cultural identity. With a steadily growing world population, one of the most significant challenges of the 21st century will be increasing food production while maintaining worldwide forest health and biodiversity. “I have come to realize that we, forest management experts, don’t…  More 

New Science Synthesis on Soils and Soil Management

We don’t often think about what’s underneath our feet, but soils are essential for the food we eat, building materials for our homes, the clean water we drink, storing carbon and mitigating climate change, even the air we breathe. Our health and well-being depend on healthy soils. It may be time to take a closer…  More 

Dead Wood, Insects, and Fire

Dead wood is a secret harbor of biodiversity. About one-third of all insect species are saproxylic – or dependent upon dead wood – at some stage in their life cycle. The effects of common forest management practices on this important resource and the insects that use it are understudied, especially in subtropical climates. USDA Forest…  More 

Dams & Crayfish Genetics

In Alabama, crayfishes are being separated and genetically changed, which increases the risk of local extinction. This work is not done by a mad scientist, but by dams with their reservoirs and unnatural pools of water. A novel study published in the journal Freshwater Biology by USDA Forest Service scientists Zanethia Barnett and Susan Adams,…  More 

Deadwood in Longleaf Pine Forests

Longleaf pine forests are important ecosystems for a broad array of wildlife and understory plant species, such as the red-cockaded woodpecker, the southeastern fox squirrel, and the venus fly trap. Over time, the forests have dwindled due to replacement by other land uses and the suppression of fires with which they evolved. Now, they are…  More 

How Tree Diversity Affects Invasive Forest Pests

“Invasive insects and diseases pose both ecological and economic threats to our forest ecosystems,” says Qinfeng Guo, USDA Forest Service research ecologist. Guo is the lead author of a broad-scale study of U.S. forest data that examines the relationship between the number of native tree species and the number of nonnative forest pests. Across their…  More 

Definitive New Book on Saproxylic Insects

Bark-feeders, fungus-feeders, wood-borers, and wood-nesting bees – all are saproxylic insects, which means they depend on dead or dying wood. The insects that prey on or parasitize them are also considered saproxylic. “About a third of all forest insect species are saproxylic,” says USDA Forest Service research entomologist Michael Ulyshen. Ulyshen recently edited a definitive…  More 

Elevation and Invasion

When humans wander the planet, they carry their plants along, often inadvertently. For example, Plantago major earned the common name ‘white man’s footprint,’ because it hitchhiked to the U.S. with European settlers and began growing along trails and roads. It is a very common species in the Southeast and has naturalized all over the globe.…  More 

Trees in Protected Areas

Conservation goals range anywhere from aesthetics to survival. Among the most important of those is ensuring that an ecosystem is resilient to disturbances and provides as many different functions as possible. According to an assessment by a USDA Forest Service cooperating researcher, those qualities can be quantified using two metrics: rarity and evolutionary distinctiveness. Rarity…  More