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Research Highlights

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  • Pinyon and juniper woodlands occupy over 70,000 square miles of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau, extending across a climatic gradient from eastern Oregon to the Four Corners of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Both land managers and the communities that depend on these woodlands are concerned about ongoing changes and environmental degradation. This new synthesis builds the necessary understanding to help determine appropriate management of these important ecosystems.
    Year
    2020
    Research Unit(s)
    Maintaining Resilient Dryland Ecosystems
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    Nevada
  • Forested land owned by states or private and family owners makes up about 44 % of the total land area in the South. This study highlights the connection between state and private forests (SPF) and the drinking water supply in the South. The study reveals that SPF lands contributed more than 44 %of the water supply generated in the region.
    Year
    2020
    Research Station
    Research Unit(s)
    Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    North Carolina
  • A new series of thirty-minute webinars highlight recent research and management implications for colleagues from the USDA Forest Service Southern Region, Southern Group of State Foresters, and the Southern Research Station.  
    Year
    2020
    Research Station
    Research Unit(s)
    Center for Integrated Forest Science and Synthesis
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    North Carolina
  • Canada lynx depend on boreal and subalpine forests that have been structured by natural disturbances for millennia.  The management conundrum is how to salvage beetle-killed trees, while also conserving this iconic species. USDA Forest Service researchers instrumented Canada lynx with GPS collars to learn how they used beetle-impacted forests and inform how to balance timber salvage with species conservation.
    Year
    2020
    Research Unit(s)
    Wildlife and Terrestrial Ecosystems
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    Montana
  • The epic droughts of 2018 in the Southwestern U.S. devastated landscapes and economies alike. The Rangeland Production Monitoring Service was used to help the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency identify the most affected areas and seek emergency funding to facilitate re-seeding efforts. 
    Year
    2020
    Research Unit(s)
    Human Dimensions
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    Montana
  • As a science-based, data-driven agency, the USDA Forest Service regularly conducts risk-based analysis to inform leadership and improve the overall health and safety of our firefighting community. in 2020 these types of assessments are complicated by additional risks to firefighter health and workforce capacity posed by COVID-19. To better understand the risks posed by COVID-19 to fire suppression efforts, and to support risk-informed decision making, the COVID-19 Fire Modeling Team developed a model for the potential spread of the disease in fire camp under a range of scenarios.
    Year
    2020
    Research Unit(s)
    Human Dimensions
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    Colorado
  • The Landscape Dynamics Assessment Tool (LanDAT) is designed to help natural resource managers assess changing landscapes and understand how these changes impact ecosystem services. LanDAT relies on vegetation phenology to map forest changes driven by fire, land use, insects, disease, and climate.
    Year
    2020
    Research Station
    Research Unit(s)
    Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    North Carolina
  • A field-based reciprocial translocation experiment for mountain pine beetle revealed local adaptation and genetic differences between populations in response to temperature. Because locally-evolved adaptations in mountain pine beetle have resulted in strict physiological requirements for temperature regimes at specific times of the year, population persistence will be dependent on temperature changes that are not too hot, but just right.
    Year
    2020
    Research Unit(s)
    Forest and Woodland Ecosystems
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    Utah
  • All 50 States offer programs that lower property taxes for enrolled forestlands, but participation in these programs vary. USDA Forest Service research found that program eligibility rules, restrictions on enrolled land, and penalties for withdrawal affect enrollment. Larger land parcels are more likely to be enrolled. Surprisingly, landowner goals and concerns were not usually linked to enrollment in state property tax programs.
    Year
    2020
    Research Station
    Research Unit(s)
    Forest Economics and Policy
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    North Carolina
  • White oak commodity production has seen an uptick due to increased demand for spirits distilled in white oak barrels. To maintain white oak primacy, which supports ecosystems as well as industry, managers must ensure that white oak saplings survive and grow into the canopy. USDA Forest Service researchers are partnering wtih partners across the U.S. to provide managers with wills and knowledge to maintain this vital component of U.S. Forests.
    Year
    2020
    Research Station
    Research Unit(s)
    Forest Genetics & Biological Foundations
    Sustainable Management of Central Hardwood Ecosystems and Landscapes
    State(s)
    Missouri
    Mississippi
  • The USDA Forest Service partnered with the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma on an exciting new community science project to map rivercane ecosystems. Rivercane (Arundinaria gigantea) is a relative of bamboo native to the southeastern U.S. and widely used in basketry and other traditional arts. This project aims to increase knowledge of and access to rivercane. 
    Year
    2020
    Research Station
    Research Unit(s)
    Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    North Carolina
  • Forests provide drinking water and protect drinking water supplies. The USDA Forest Service's 'Forest to Faucets' program is a unique tool for understanding and visualizing this ecosystem service, as well as the stressors that threaten it. This new, user-friendly tool integrates maps, hydrologic models, and databases of surface drinking water supply across the country.
    Year
    2020
    Research Station
    Research Unit(s)
    Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    North Carolina
  • Electronic noses, specialized machines that can be hand-held devices or for laboratory use, can detect emerald ash borer (EAB) larvae while ash trees are still alive and before signs of insect infestations appear. Early detection can prevent tree death and damage, and can also prevent EAB from spreading to healthy trees. This new tool has the potential to greatly improve the effectiveness of direct EAB control and quarantine procedures to mitigate tree damage and provide options for early tree harvests to preserve lumber value.
    Year
    2020
    Research Station
    Research Unit(s)
    Forest Genetics & Biological Foundations
  • Forests in the northern and western U.S. and Europe have been well-studied in terms of wind disturbance and subsequent insect infestations. However, those relationships are not as clear in the southern U.S. USDA Forest Service researchers synthesized the state-of-the-knowledge around weather disturbances and their interactions with forest pests and pathogens in the South. While some phloem-feeding bark beetles increase in dead and dying trees following disturbance, there are no published data supporting anecdotal reports that southern pine beetle may reach outbreak status as a result of weather disturbances.  
    Year
    2020
    Research Station
    Research Unit(s)
    Southern Pine Ecology
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    Arkansas
  • The 1912 Douglas-Fir Heredity Study - one of the first studies established by the US USDA Forest Service - is particularly valuable owing to its long timespan. While this study was established a century ago to help understand trait inheritance in Douglas-fir, it now provides new insights showing how far seed sources of this species may be moved to ensure adapted forests in the face of changing climates.
    Year
    2020
    Research Unit(s)
    Land and Watershed Management
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    Oregon
  • Tropical green roofs with minimum or no maintenance are dominated by spontaneous vegetation, and originally planted species have little or no success without intervention. Local spontaneous vegetation may be considered for green roof designs to assure durability and resilience.
    Year
    2020
    Research Unit(s)
    International Institute of Tropical Forestry
  • Land managers aiming to protect hemlock trees and control hemlock woolly adelgids (HWA) have a new resource from the USDA Forest Service: a technology transfer publication with guidelines on integrating chemical and biological control of the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid. The guide synthesizes current knowledge and presents a strategy for prolonging hemlock health: limited use of insecticides combined with establishing HWA predators on untreated or previously-treated trees. It offers guidelines a for implementing, monitoring, and assessing the strategy, which can be adapted to incorporate additional management tools as they are developed.
    Year
    2020
    Research Station
    Research Unit(s)
    Insects, Diseases, and Invasive Plants
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    North Carolina
  • Enhancing tenure and land access for agroforestry increases opportunities to achieve both public and private conservation and production goals. The USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) built partnerships and developed new resources to support innovative approaches to agroforestry land access. Through case studies, presentations, and other publications, institutional and private landowners, along with agroforestry practitioners, NAC efforts help practitioners better understand options and models for gaining access to land for agroforestry.
    Year
    2020
    Research Station
    Research Unit(s)
    National Agroforestry Center
    Principal Investigator(s)
  • The effect of earthworms on litter and soil organic carbon (SOC) decay depends strongly on earthworm functional groups and diversity. High diversity of earthworm functional groups accelerates litter mass loss and SOC decay.
    Year
    2020
    Research Unit(s)
    International Institute of Tropical Forestry
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    Puerto Rico
  • Threatened coho salmon require different types of freshwater habitat depending on life stage. Connectivity among these different habitats may have more influence on long-term population health than the quality of individual habitats alone. 
    Year
    2020
    Research Unit(s)
    Land and Watershed Management
    Principal Investigator(s)
    State(s)
    Oregon
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