Prevention is Key: Lessons from Laurel Wilt

Since 2002, forests in the southeastern U.S. have struggled against a disease called laurel wilt. In 18 years, laurel wilt has spread to 11 southeastern states and killed hundreds of millions of trees. A review article by USDA Forest Service scientist Rabiu Olatinwo reflects on the origins and spread of laurel wilt throughout the last…  More 

New Resource on Invasive Species

Eastern hemlock, American chestnut, sassafras, redbay, every member of the ash family, and many others are plagued by non-native invasive species. A new book synthesizes current science on species invading U.S. forests, grasslands, and waterways. The book was published by Springer, and the entire book is available to download. The book covers invasive species of…  More 

E-Noses Detect Emerald Ash Borer Larvae

Electronic noses are sensitive to a vast suite of volatile organic compounds that every living organism emits. A new USDA Forest Service study shows that e-noses can detect emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) larvae lurking under the bark – an early, noninvasive detection method. “The results were quite spectacular,” says Dan Wilson, a research plant…  More 

Why Native Plants Are Best

This article was written to celebrate Native Plant Month in Arkansas. It was originally published in Our Ozarks. In 1733, Peter Collinson, a botanist and cloth merchant, walked with great excitement to the ship docks in London. He picked up two boxes of seeds from an American farmer named John Bartram. With these exotic seeds,…  More 

Closer to Understanding Enigmatic Mussel Declines

Just by existing and eating, mussels improve water quality. They are filter feeders, which means they eat small pieces of organic matter that float past them. But mussels are dying, often in streams that otherwise seem healthy. Many streams that formerly supported diverse mussel communities now are essentially defaunated. These events are enigmatic because other…  More 

Laurel Wilt Disease and the Endangered Pondberry Shrub

Pondberry (Lindera melissifolia) is a rare, federally endangered shrub that’s found scattered around bottomland forests of the southeastern U.S. In late summer, the shrub produces spicy, crimson-colored fruits. Like other native Lauraceae species, its leaves give off a sweet, citrusy scent when crushed. And, like its Lauraceous brethren redbay and sassafras, pondberry is susceptible to…  More 

Uncovering Urban Forests

The scope of forest-pest risk analysis research is often limited to natural forests. Neglected are those tree communities called urban forests: trees within the boundaries of a city or populated area. Urban trees see a significant proportion of the impacts from invasive pests. Their unnatural distribution and close proximity to transported goods and other means…  More 

Effects of Forest Fragmentation and Restoration on Invasive Species

Managing invasive species is one of the largest challenges that land managers face. They threaten the health of natural ecosystems, prevent the growth of native species, and leave landowners with significant amounts of damage. “More than 4,300 exotic plant species and 66 foreign pest species that can cause negative effects on forest ecosystems and economies…  More 

Research for Mississippi and Beyond

Water defines the Mississippi Delta, an alluvial plain in northwest Mississippi. The Delta is sandwiched between the Yazoo and Mississippi Rivers, and a network of levees and pumps aim to keep the land dry enough for habitation and agriculture. In 2019, however, historic flooding left fields inundated for months. USDA Forest Service scientists have served…  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