Women in Science: Callie Schweitzer

The Women in Science series features women scientists from across the Southern Research Station (SRS)–their education, career paths, challenges, achievements, and inspirations. Meet SRS scientist Callie Schweitzer, a research forester with the Upland Hardwood Ecology and Management Research Unit in Huntsville, Alabama. She received her doctorate and master’s degrees in Forest Resources and Ecology from Pennsylvania State University.…  More 

Exotic Plants May Dominate After a Fire, But Not for Long

Land managers expect that exotic invasive plants will quickly move in following a disturbance, especially after a fire. Though exotics initially might have an edge over native plants on burned ground, this may not always be so as time goes on, according to a U.S. Forest Service study. Qinfeng Guo, a research ecologist with the…  More 

Fire Frequency & Hardwood Regeneration

The mighty oak is a critical component of southern forests—for wildlife habitat, acorn production, and hardwood timber—but forests are changing, and its future is uncertain. A long-running U.S. Forest Service experiment studied the use of prescribed fire to control competition from shade-tolerant tree species like red maple, American beech, and blackgum. The study area, located on…  More 

Into the Rhizosphere: Soil Fungi and Carbon Dynamics

Underneath the Earth’s surface, water, nutrients, and chemical signals are shuttled through a sprawling network between tree roots and soil fungi. “Many forest trees depend on their associated soil fungi for nutrients, as the fungi are better at absorbing nitrogen, phosphorous, and other nutrients,” says U.S. Forest Service ecologist Melanie Taylor. “The trees return the…  More 

Forests, Water, Climate, and Management

Across the globe, forests cover about a quarter of all land and are important sources of clean water. A new book, edited by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientist Devendra Amatya, examines the interactions between forests, water, climate, and management. The book, Forest Hydrology: Processes, Management and Assessment, was recently published by the…  More 

Here Today or Here to Stay?

Some disturbances come and go, leaving forests no worse for the wear. Hailstorms, insect defoliations, and light prescribed fires, for example, commonly occur early in the growing season, but, because of the timing and nature of these disturbances, trees and other vegetation may quickly regrow leaves after the damage is done. In such cases, even…  More 

Disturbance Affects Relationship between the Nitrogen and Carbon Cycles

Carbon and nitrogen are always on the move. Both elements are versatile – they are constantly being converted from one form to another, and are required by all living things. “Because plants, animals, and microbes also require fixed ratios of the two elements, carbon and nitrogen’s chemical cycles are inherently linked,” says U.S. Forest Service…  More 

Creating Young Forests to Benefit Wildlife

There’s a tendency to think of the hardwood forests of the South as pristine, undisturbed, and unchanging. But forests are constantly changing, which is a good thing for disturbance-dependent species that require open structural conditions created immediately after forest disturbances or at some point early in the process of recovery. Historically and still today, windstorms,…  More 

Chemical Clues to a Forest’s Past in Nitrogen Isotope Ratios

From the depths of the soil to the top of the atmosphere, nitrogen is everywhere. It is also indispensable to plants and animals. The vast majority of nitrogen atoms contain the same number of uncharged particles. However, a few atoms are ‘stable’ isotopes that have one extra uncharged particle. Although the extra particle adds a miniscule…  More 

Managing for Natural Disturbances in Central Hardwood Forests

A new book edited by U.S. Forest Service researcher Katie Greenberg and Western Carolina University professor Beverly Collins offers detailed science-based information about the history of natural disturbances in the Central Hardwood Region of the U.S., and provides insight for managers and ecologists on managing the area’s forests. Published by Springer, Natural Disturbances and Historic Range of…  More