Restoration in the Understory

Some plants are homebodies and refuse to thrive in new areas. “Plants have unique abilities to thrive where they grow but moving plants outside their genetically adapted environment might cause them not to grow as well,” says Joan Walker, SRS research plant ecologist. The U.S. Forest Service, led by Walker, is partnering with federal and state…  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 

Ride, Drive, or Walk? The Decision is Not So Simple for Some

In the U.S., about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions are related to travel. Many of these trips are short – perhaps a 10 minute drive to work, or a 15 minute trek to the grocery store. Using public transit, walking, or biking to these destinations could help limit carbon dioxide emissions. However, there…  More 

Kudzu’s Entanglement of South Begins to Unravel

Kudzu, the nightmare weed that gobbled the South, is disappearing. Slowly, inexorably, the scientists, foresters, farmers and goats — yes, goats — are gaining the upper hand on the slinky, creepy green vine that makes abandoned homes and utility poles disappear seemingly overnight. Kudzu’s decline is difficult for a Southerner to grasp. Drive down that…  More 

Cogongrass Can Be Stopped

Over the past decade, U.S. Forest Service researchers have been working with university cooperators to find some way to slow down or stop the relentless spread of cogongrass. In late 2014, Auburn University researchers reported results that demonstrated, for the first time, that patches of cogongrass can be eliminated completely within three years — showing…  More 

Changes in Forest Conditions Have Contributed to Pollinator Decline

Forests in North America have changed rapidly over the past century. Before European settlement, forests were a mosaic of open pine and hardwood forests, prairies, and woodland savannas. Recent studies have found that forests with sun-filled openings and those with open canopies —  where the branches from adjacent trees don’t touch or overlap — favor pollinators…  More 

When Privet’s Removed, Native Plants and Pollinators Return

Forests infested with privet invoke a kind of despair in people attuned to the problem of invasive plants. Privet invades a forest quickly, sprawling across the understory and growing into thickets that crowd out native plants and change the very ecology of an area. Even if the woody shrub can be removed effectively, can a…  More 

How Healthy Are Your Pines?

Seventeen percent of the world’s industrial roundwood comes from U.S. forests – and southern pine forests are among the most productive in the country. Pine plantations in the South often anchor local and regional economies while providing ecosystem services such as clean water and air, and countless recreation benefits. “Forests are an integral part of…  More 

Educating Future Engineers about Cities and Trees

According to the 2010 census, almost 81 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas. As the U.S. loses more of its forests and natural resources to the expansion of urban areas, it is important to provide information about the benefits of trees, forests, and natural areas to city planners and the engineers who…  More 

Coldwater Fish in Warming Streams

Scientists and managers are concerned about the future of trout in the southern Appalachian Mountains, but what about anglers? Over 100,000 people enjoy trout fishing in north Georgia. U.S. Forest Service scientist J. Michael Bowker recently coauthored a study about how trout anglers perceive climate change risks to trout. The study was led by Ramesh…  More