Coastal Forests Face Rising Sea Levels, Increased Salinity

Ghost forests aren’t some spooky legend. They’re patches of dead and dying trees that haunt the coastlines of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia where sea levels are rising and land is sinking. USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service scientists are working with partners across the coastal plain to understand where these watery…  More 

Study Wins Water Resources Research Editor’s Choice Award

Over the last three decades, forest vegetation has begun using significantly more water, as long-term climate and streamflow data reveal. USDA Forest Service scientists Jim Vose and Dave Wear contributed to the study, which was led by Taehee Hwang, an assistant professor at the University of Indiana. The findings were published in the journal Water…  More 

Barriers to Bioenergy?

At the national level, bioenergy is seen as a crucial component of a secure and renewable energy plan. Many people view southern forests as prime resources to support the hopeful bioenergy industry. But how is the national agenda for bioenergy received by communities in the South? “We are interested in understanding how the national discourse…  More 

Amphibian Life Cycles and Climate Change

From the trees in the forest to the various organisms populating it, all species of plants and animals have periodic life cycle events. Changes in climate have impacted the timing of these life cycle events for many species. This, in turn, can affect how likely coexisting populations are to interact with each other. A study…  More 

Eucalyptus Freezes in the Piedmont

When a cold snap killed the Eucalyptus benthamii saplings, no one was surprised. E. benthamii is one of the most cold-tolerant of approximately 700 Eucalypts. Still, it is maladapted to the North Carolina Piedmont, according to a recent USDA Forest Service study published in Forest Science. “Winters are becoming milder,” says John Butnor, an SRS…  More 

Seminole Bats on the Move

Over the past 48 years, Seminole bats (Lasiurus seminolus) have drastically expanded their range. “The northern edge of their summer range has expanded by 323 miles,” says Roger Perry, a USDA Forest Service research wildlife biologist. “That’s approximately 7 miles a year since 1970.” The western range is also expanding, possibly because forests are replacing…  More 

Foraging in the Future

Foraging can be as casual as searching for wild blackberries in a suburban backyard. At least a quarter of the U.S. population has foraged in this way. “Forests provide food, medicine, and other sundry items for subsistence and income,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Jim Chamberlain. Blackberries, blueberries, Christmas trees, firewood, fungi, grasses, greenery, mosses,…  More 

Water Tables and Wetlands

Some wetlands won’t stay wet, according to new research that blends long-term observations and climate projections. “By end of the 21st century, all five of the wetland sites we studied are predicted to become much drier,” says USDA Forest Service research hydrologist Ge Sun. The five wetlands are long-term research sites located throughout the southeastern…  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 

Projections of Future Climate and Annual Runoff

Hydrologists have traditionally relied on historic precipitation data to estimate broad-scale runoff. “Rainfall was always number one,” says USDA Forest Service scientist Ge Sun. “But things are changing and getting more complicated.” Sun co-authored a recent modeling study that investigated how other climate factors might influence future changes in runoff. The researchers were intrigued by…  More