Photo Guide to Fuel Loads in the Southern Appalachians

A new photo guide shows fuel loads in the Southern Appalachian mountains. A team of four experts wrote the guide: Adam Coates, a professor at Virginia Tech; Tom Waldrop, a USDA Forest Service research forester who is now retired; Todd Hutchinson, a research ecologist at the Northern Research Station; and Helen Mohr, an SRS forester…  More 

Impact of Fire Management on Breeding Birds in the Southern Appalachians

To increase the prescribed “burn window” for reaching restoration goals, land managers are now burning during winter (the dormant season) as well as spring and summer (the growing season) and fall. Management goals often include fuel reduction, oak regeneration, habitat improvement for target wildlife species, and forest restoration to conditions once created by Native Americans…  More 

New Directions for Fire Ecology Research

Fire is a complicated process that affects forests in diverse ways. Current methods for predicting fire effects on forests still largely rely on past observations rather than a deep understanding of how fire interacts with a forest environment. In order to more fully understand fire’s effect on an ecosystem, wildland fire must be viewed as…  More 

Reptile and Amphibian Response to Prescribed Burns in Florida

USDA Forest Service and University of Florida scientists partnered to monitor reptiles and amphibians before and after growing season (spring and summer) and dormant season (winter) prescribed burns in longleaf pine sandhills in a study on the Ocala National Forest in Florida. The research team recorded the number of animals captured, the number of species…  More 

After Fire, Red Oak Seedlings Resprout

Disturbance – from fire and subsistence living to widespread exploitative logging – enabled the growth of oak (Quercus) forests across the eastern U.S. These disturbances are not common today. Reduced disturbance, coupled with a long-term increase in moisture availability has been good for non-oak trees, which establish and grow under the older oak canopy –…  More 

Hardwood-Cypress Swamps, Unlikely Fire Hazards

In parts of the southeastern U.S., one unlikely forest type has great potential for extreme fire behavior: hardwood-cypress swamps. These shallow wetlands can work with their more frequently burned neighbors, pine flatwoods, to wreak havoc by easily igniting and sustaining tremendous wildfires, thus depleting carbon storage in these forests. Hardwood-cypress swamps and pine flatwoods are…  More 

Insights from the 2016 Southern Appalachian Wildfires

Depending on their timing and location, fires can destroy or restore, with little gray area in between. In the early fall of 2016, one specific fire event in Southern Appalachia was unlike any other in recent decades, leaving behind unprecedented devastation once the fire had ceased. From this disastrous fire season comes a recent report…  More 

Bees of Longleaf Pine Forests

Old-growth, or primary forests, are classified as having very little human disturbance — and thus they provide a unique opportunity to study life in relatively unchanged settings. Previous research suggests that these ecosystems may provide critical habitat for sensitive species that are absent or rare in other places. However, past studies comparing bee biodiversity in…  More 

Timing Prescribed Fire to Maximize Longleaf Pine Growth

Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) needs fire to thrive. But if seedlings burn too late in the growing season, they may not have enough energy to re-grow their scorched leaves and replenish their starch reserves before spring of the next year. “When seedlings are so short that a prescribed fire is likely to scorch all of…  More 

Workshop on Shortleaf Pine in the Southern Appalachians

On March 3 and 4, 2020, about 25 silviculturists, foresters, fire management officers, timber specialists, and other USDA Forest Service experts gathered for a two-day workshop on shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata). In the southern Appalachians, shortleaf pine restoration is a major priority for national forests and others. The species has an extensive range but its…  More