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 

Climate and Society Will Determine the Future of Wildfire in the South

A new study by U.S. Forest Service scientists and collaborators projects a four percent increase overall in acres burned by wildfire in the Southeast by 2060, but with substantial uncertainties and large variations by state and ecoregion, including a 34 percent increase in acres burned due to lightning-caused fires. The study, just published in the…  More 

Our Dry, Warm Future may Favor Oaks

Historically, many oak forests across the eastern U.S. experienced frequent low-intensity fires that promoted the establishment and growth of oaks. “However, fire and other disturbances have become less common,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist James Vose. “Red maple, tulip poplar, and other mesophytic, fire-sensitive, and shade-tolerant trees are increasing in many areas of the eastern…  More 

Water Planning for the South in the New Fire Age

The ability to provide fresh drinking water is a critical ecosystem service of forests, and for many households in the southeastern United States, forests are the only source of municipal water supply. About 32 percent of the Southeast’s total annual water supply originates on state and private forest lands and another 3.4 percent on National Forest System…  More 

Fires, Fuels, and Longleaf Pine in the Western Gulf Region

On April 6, 2016, scientists from the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) presented findings on prescribed fire, longleaf pine, and other topics during an all-day workshop titled “Louisiana Fire, Fuels, and Longleaf Pine Management: Lessons from the Kisatchie National Forest and the Palustris Experimental Forest.” Mary Anne S. Sayer, SRS research plant physiologist…  More 

The Future of Fire in the South

Fire is an integral part of the southern landscape. In the U.S., most of the focus is on the catastrophic fires that regularly sweep across the western states, but wildfires actually occur more frequently in the Southeast, where rapid vegetation growth and fuel accumulation combine with frequent ignitions from lightning and humans. The South leads the nation…  More 

21st Century Fire Ecology in the South

U.S. Forest Service researchers are using an array of high technologies — high resolution infrared thermography, LiDAR, and photogrammetry — to reach a new level of understanding of the interactions among fuels, fire, and plant diversity that underlie the successful use of prescribed fire in longleaf pine ecosystems. The longleaf pine forests that once covered over 90 million acres…  More 

In the Southeast, Who’s in the Path of Smoke Plumes?

For more than 30 years, researchers have known that poor communities and people of color in the U.S. are more likely to be affected by environmental threats such as landfills and toxic waste sites. “Are these socially vulnerable communities also exposed to more smoke from wildfires and prescribed fires?” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Cassandra…  More 

Under the Longleaf Pine Canopy

Longleaf pine forests once covered over 90 million acres of North America stretching from Texas to Florida to Virginia. However, logging, fire exclusion, and land use change caused the acreage of longleaf pine to shrink to about 2.5 million acres. “Longleaf pine forests are one of the most endangered terrestrial ecosystems in the southeastern United States,”…  More 

Guide to Prescribed Fire in Southern Ecosystems

Prescribed burning is FIRE “applied in a skillful manner, under exacting weather conditions, in a definite place, to achieve specific results.” Printed on the inside cover of the Introduction to Prescribed Fire in Southern Ecosystems, the sentence sets the tone for the revised guide developed by U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists Tom Waldrop…  More