There’s More to Restoration Than Planting Trees

Discussions about longleaf pine restoration tend to focus on planting seedlings, managing hardwood competition, and using prescribed fire, but ecosystem restoration also involves bringing back the groundcover that makes longleaf pine forests some of the richest plant communities on our planet. “The groundcover layer of the longleaf pine forest is truly extraordinary,” says Joan Walker, research plant ecologist with…  More 

Thinning and Burning: The Best Defense Against Southern Pine Beetle

A recent study by U.S. Forest Service and university researchers shows that thinning and prescribed fire can protect stands of southern pines on a landscape level from infestations by southern pine beetle. The results, published online in the Journal of Forestry, also provide first-time confirmation of the effectiveness of the treatments supported by the Southern Pine…  More 

Burning Caicos Pine Yards

This spring found U.S. Forest Service scientist Joe O’Brien helping to set a prescribed fire in the Turks and Caicos, a small Caribbean island chain that’s a British Overseas Territory. O’Brien, research ecologist with the Forest Service Southern Research Station Center for Forest Disturbance Science, was there to help save a unique rockland pine habitat from…  More 

Changing Forest Conditions and Pollinator Decline

“Forests in North America have changed rapidly during the past century,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Jim Hanula. 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…  More 

Fighting Earthworm Invasions with Fire

Consider the lowly earthworm, burrowing under your feet and eating old leaves. These activities may seem inconsequential, but they can actually create, change, or destroy habitat. “Earthworms can fundamentally change the soils they inhabit,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Mac Callaham. “They can have such significant effects that they’re often called ecosystem engineers.” The…  More 

18th Biennial Southern Silvicultural Research Conference Held in Knoxville

The first week of March, the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) and the University of Tennessee (UT) hosted nearly 250 scientists and silvicultural specialists in Knoxville, Tennessee, for the 18th Annual Biennial Southern Silvicultural Research Conference (BSSRC).  The conference boasted attendance from academic, international, state, federal, private, and non-governmental institutions and agencies from…  More 

Crash and Burn: How Tornado Damage Affects Fire Behavior

Tornadoes and fires are powerful natural disturbances that can kill trees and cause long lasting changes in community composition. “However, most disturbances are neither rare nor catastrophic,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Joseph O’Brien. “There is a continuum of disturbance severity in most ecosystems, although the interactions among these disturbances haven’t received much study.” One…  More 

How do Wildfires — And Efforts to Abate Them — Affect the Nation’s Water Supplies?

More than 180 million people across the United States rely on forest watersheds to store, filter, and deliver the water that flows from their taps. Unfortunately, in many parts of the country, these watershed functions face an increasing risk of severe wildfire. Prescribed burning is one treatment that can reduce forest fuels and wildfire’s threats…  More 

Research Communication–and Brevity–Earn Prize for Eastern Threat Center Scientist

“How good is the research if we can’t communicate it?” says Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center biological scientist Serra Hoagland after taking top honors at Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) 3 Minute Research Presentation Project contest. The inaugural event at NAU, where Hoagland is pursuing a PhD in forest science, challenges graduate students to explain…  More 

Bringing Fire Back to the Kisatchie Sandstone Hills

The hillside bogs, sandstone glades, and woodlands of the Kisatchie Sandstone Hills in Louisiana are potential homes to a number of rare and endangered animals such as the red-cockaded woodpecker and the Louisiana pine snake. However, in much of the Kisatchie Hills, the open woodlands these animals need have vanished amid a dense midstory of…  More