Detecting the Pathogen That Stalks the Endangered Florida Torreya

Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia) is a critically endangered conifer tree in swift decline since the 1950s. The torreya fungus (Fusarium torreyae) is currently devastating the remaining Florida torreya population. The fungus forms cankers, or localized dead areas, that damage branch or trunk tissue and eventually kill the trees. In the face of extinction from this…  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 

Redbay Ambrosia Beetle in Sassafras & Redbay

Redbay ambrosia beetles (Xyleborus glabratus) reproduce best in wood that’s dead or dying, according to a recent USDA Forest Service study. “Redbay trees that have just died from laurel wilt are incredibly attractive to redbay ambrosia beetles,” says SRS plant pathologist Stephen Fraedrich. “A redbay tree that has recently died can attract thousands of beetles.”…  More 

Promoting Forest Health in Kentucky

Most bourbon whiskey is made in Kentucky, and federal law requires all bourbon to be aged in white oak barrels. USDA Forest Service researchers and partners are teaming up to advance the sustainability and restoration of white oak resources across the South. This research, along with forest health research on the American chestnut and other…  More 

Study Supports Single Introduction of Laurel Wilt Pathogen in the U.S.

Laurel wilt has devastated plants in the Lauraceae family – redbay, sassafras, pondberry, avocado, and others – since it was first detected in the southeastern U.S. around 2002. The disease is caused by the pathogen Raffaelea lauricola and carried by the redbay ambrosia beetle – and by humans moving infested wood. There is no widespread,…  More 

The Climate Is Changing—What’s a Silviculturist To Do?

Climate change is here. In southern forests, it takes the form of novel disturbances – different frequency and severity of drought, fire, wind storms, insect outbreaks, even ice storms – or a combination of these stressors. “How will managers respond to the threats posed by changing climate conditions?” asks USDA Forest Service scientist James Guldin.…  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 

Saving the Torreya

A century ago, about half a million torreya trees grew in the wild. Today, there are fewer than 1,000. Is extinction imminent, or can the species be saved? “I’m more optimistic now, after the Torreya Tree of Life Workshop,” says USDA Forest Service geneticist Dana Nelson. “The workshop brought a large group of enthusiastic people…  More 

Conserving Eastern Hemlock

Where can you go to find an eastern hemlock tree? Although threatened by the hemlock woolly adelgid, eastern hemlock has an extensive range. “Eastern hemlock grows throughout the southern Appalachians,” says U.S. Forest Service collaborator and ecologist Kevin Potter. Potter is also a forestry faculty member at North Carolina State University. “Hemlock grows in the…  More 

Giant Stag Beetles

Up to 30 percent of all forest insect species depend on wood that is dead or dying. “Such species are among the most threatened insects in Europe,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Michael Ulyshen. “However, very little is known about their diversity or conservation status in North America.” In the U.S., the giant stag beetle…  More