In the News

2014

The Forest Family: Relationships among Tree Species

12_18_longleaf_DavidStephens_Bugwood.jpgLike all species, forest trees have their own web of relationships among themselves. Studying these evolutionary ties is the main focus of phylogenetics, and can assist in forest health assessment. “Understanding relationships among tree species can show how they interact with each other and with the environment,” says North Carolina State University scientist Kevin Potter. “Phylogenetics can be used to assess forest health from the perspective of biodiversity and resilience to stress.” Potter, a research cooperator with the Eastern Threat Center, is lead author of a new study that analyzes forest phylogenetics across the entire United States. The study was coauthored by Center research ecologist Frank Koch, and was recently published in Forest Science. Read more in CompassLive...

 

Center Scientist Makes Tracks with Science Sprouts

dinosaur_tracks_Hargrove.jpgThe first week of November found Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Bill Hargrove making tracks through the Colburn Earth Science Museum in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. Dinosaur tracks, that is, and he wasn’t the only one making them. Hargrove led seven second-grade Science Sprouts on a journey into the Mesozoic Era, the period some 65 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth. “My seven-year-old daughter Amira is a rock hound, and has gone to classes at Colburn since first grade,” said Hargrove. “I was there with her one time and I started discussing their fossil collection and identifying some of their specimens. Next thing I know, I’m invited to teach the Sprouts about fossils and dinosaurs.” Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: A Science Sprouts student makes tracks like a quadrupedal dinosaur. Photo by Bill Hargrove.

 

ForWarn Chosen for National Climate Resilience Toolkit Launched for White House

US_Climate_Resilience_Toolkit.jpg ForWarn, the satellite-based forest disturbance monitoring system developed by the Eastern and Western Threat Centers and partners, was selected as one of the “top 25” tools included in the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. Launched on November 17th for the White House by an interagency team that included members from the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Interior, NOAA, and others, the Toolkit “provides resources and a framework for understanding and addressing the climate issues that impact people and their communities.” Read more in CompassLive...

 

The Role of Humans in U.S. Plant Invasions The Role of Humans in U.S. Plant Invasions

As exotic introduced plants spread into areas where they weren’t wanted, plant biologists and others looked closely at the effects of human activities on plant hybridization. Over half a century ago, two scientists came up with the “disturbance hypothesis,” which proposes that disturbances from human activities promote hybridization by creating habitats hybrids can persist in. Though the hypothesis is widely accepted and proven in small-scale studies, the connection between human disturbance and hybridization hasn’t been satisfactorily corroborated at regional or national scales. Until now, that is. Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Qinfeng Guo analyzed huge datasets from plant, population, weather, and other sources to reveal that hotspots of hybrid plants occur in areas with large human populations and with many years of European settlement, supporting the disturbance hypothesis. In an article recently published in the journal Biodiversity Research, Guo reports findings from his study, which is the first to analyze the richness and distribution of hybrid plants at the county level across the contiguous U.S. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Bell’s honeysuckle is a hybrid between two exotics. Unlike many exotic hybrids, it is included on the invasive plants lists of 14 states. Photo by Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org.

 

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

WallowFire_ApacheSitgreaves.jpgMore 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 to municipal areas, but how does fire—planned or not—impact water quantity across the landscape? Can forest thinning, which causes forests to take up less water, reduce fire risk and also increase water supplies? Eastern Threat Center researchers and collaborators are beginning a first-of-its-kind study to explore these questions. Findings could have important implications for local forest management decisions that ultimately affect water quantity as well as quality. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: A watershed is transformed following the 2011 Wallow Fire in Arizona. Photo courtesy of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

 

Center Researcher Honored for Distinguished Science

Kurt_Riitters_2014award_cropped.jpgKurt Riitters is mellow and soft-spoken, qualities that might be unexpected for a world-renowned landscape ecologist, but his passion for his work is undeniable. “I’ve worked for four federal agencies, and the U.S. Forest Service is the best,” he said upon accepting the Distinguished Scientist Award from Southern Research Station Director Rob Doudrick on October 14. With the award, Riitters is recognized for global leadership in his research field and for the development and application of landscape pattern analysis techniques and tools, many of which have been adopted by other national and international organizations. His contributions to numerous natural resource assessments at the local, national, and global scale have provided a ‘big picture’ perspective on the causes of changing landscape patterns, the implications for forest processes, and the urgent need to manage lands for sustainability across space and time. Congratulations, Kurt!

Learn more about Riitters' work.

Pictured: Riitters holds the 2014 Southern Research Station Director's Distinguished Scientist Award outside the Forestry Sciences Lab in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

 

Landscape Comparison Technique Bridges Data Gaps in Global Forest Monitoring

global_representativeness.jpgTo understand how forests are responding to global change, a global effort is required. A vast forest research network, known as the Center for Tropical Forest Science-Forest Global Earth Observatory (CTFS-ForestGEO), is advancing this understanding with standardized forest monitoring activities in 59 forests in 24 countries across the world. Since data are not available in every country, researchers must employ methods to reach large-scale conclusions about changing forests. Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Bill Hargrove and partners have contributed to CTFS-ForestGEO with a technique developed to compare similar landscapes based on climate, soils, and topography. Their work has enabled a description of the forest types represented (or underrepresented) in the CTFS-ForestGEO network’s findings, which have been published in the journal Global Change Biology and summarized in a Smithsonian news release.

Pictured: Collaborating researchers developed a technique to compare similar landscapes, known as the Landscape Characterization and Representativeness Analysis, and created maps of global forest types.

 

Study Puts a Price Tag on Invasive Pest Impacts in an Urban Landscape

Gypsy_moth_5383245_JGhent.jpgPicture a sizable city invaded by non-native insects. Hundreds of thousands of trees are threatened. Authorities must act to control the situation, but it’s going to cost them—a lot—say collaborating researchers, including Mark Ambrose, a North Carolina State University scientist working with the Eastern Threat Center. Using Baltimore City as a case study, the researchers examined the urban tree landscape and envisioned scenarios of gypsy moth outbreaks. Given that the majority of the more than two million trees in this city would be susceptible to this leaf-munching pest, suppression efforts, tree removal and replacement, and lost ecosystem benefits would be substantial. Costs could range between about $5.5 million to almost $64 million, according to the researchers’ estimates. This study, recently published in the journal Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, provides a framework that other cities can apply to estimate the costs associated with an outbreak of gypsy moths and other invasive pests. 

Pictured: A gypsy moth caterpillar feasts on a white oak leaf. Photo by John H. Ghent, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org.

 

In 50 Years, Will Urban Sprawl Create a “Southern Megalopolis?”

southern_megalopolis_PLOS_ONE.jpgThe rapid pace of human population growth in the southeastern United States is a useful predictor of land and infrastructure development. But researchers are looking beyond increasing population density to examine recent trends in urban sprawl—the low-density development that stretches beyond a city’s core—to project future changes in the region’s land cover patterns. Jennifer Costanza, a North Carolina State University scientist working with the Eastern Threat Center, is a co-author of a recently published urban growth modeling experiment that simulated the spatial pattern and extent of urban sprawl in 2060, if current development trends continue. Results suggest that urban sprawl could double or nearly triple, creating a metropolitan area that stretches from Raleigh, NC, to Atlanta, GA, along with unprecedented challenges to forest ecosystem conservation in the Southeast. Costanza discusses the study and implications for urban planning and natural resource management in an article published in The Post and Courier. View other media coverage compiled by the Global Change Forum.

Pictured: By 2060, the Piedmont region could be a connected urban landscape, or "southern megalopolis," according to modeling results. Image courtesy of PLOS ONE.

 

Forest Health Experts Eye Hurricane Damage in North Carolina’s Coastal Forests

saltwater_damage_JDunbar.jpgFor some residents of the North Carolina coast, the 2014 Independence Day weekend will be remembered not for fireworks and family cookouts, but for damage assessment and cleanup following the high winds and heavy rain that downed trees when Hurricane Arthur came ashore on July 3. Eastern Threat Center researchers believe that Arthur did relatively little harm to the state’s coastal forests, but they will continue to watch for delayed impacts of the storm using the satellite imagery-based ForWarn—a forest disturbance monitoring tool which provides maps that compare current vegetation greenness with that of the previous year, the last three years, and the past decade. Of greater concern to the researchers and ForWarn users in North Carolina are the lingering effects of another storm — 2011’s Hurricane Irene. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Some forested areas on the North Carolina coast are in decline due to storm surge impacts from Hurricane Irene. Photo by Jamie Dunbar, North Carolina Forest Service.

 

'Focus on Water' Video Shows Connection Between Modeling Tools and Future Pine Forest Management

SMcNulty_PINEMAP_video.jpgTwenty million acres of private lands in the southern United States host planted pine forests and are significant sources of economic activity and ecological services. To help landowners manage pine for resilience and sustainability in a changing environment, Eastern Threat Center researchers and cooperating scientists are engaged in the Pine Integrated Network: Education, Mitigation, and Adaptation (PINEMAP) project. The researchers are using models to explore carbon and water cycle responses and tradeoffs under various climatic and management scenarios. In a video prepared for the project, Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Steve McNulty explains how models are useful for planning and preparation and provides an overview of the Water Supply Stress Index (WaSSI) model, which can inform land management decisions to preserve and increase the benefits provided by pine forests of the South. Watch the video…

 

When Does Biodiversity Make a Difference?

oakhickory_forest_UmsteadSP1_NC_11_04_2005.jpgBiodiversity can be like a forest’s insurance policy. The more and varied the tree species that live there, the better the chance that the forest can remain healthy, stable, and resilient through times of disturbance. But as climate change prompts new forest management approaches intended to maximize growth and productivity for carbon storage, bioenergy, and other benefits, researchers are wondering: when exactly does biodiversity make a difference? Kevin Potter, a North Carolina State University scientist working with the Eastern Threat Center, collaborated with research forester Christopher Woodall from the Forest Service Northern Research Station to examine the central research question. They studied the dynamics at play between tree biodiversity and live aboveground biomass across the contiguous United States and published the results in the journal Forest Ecology and Management. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Tree species that are more distinct in terms of their evolutionary past may have uniquely important ecosystem functions in a forest community. Pictured is a diverse oak-hickory forest in North Carolina. Photo by Kevin Potter.

 

Campers on the Move Provide Insight into Risks of Pest Invasion

firewood_transport_5428042.jpgResearchers concerned about invasive pests know that humans often play a role in helping insects spread. Transporting firewood from home to burn at a faraway campsite is one such way that people can unknowingly introduce non-native insects into a new environment where they could damage or destroy forest resources. Now, researchers have a better understanding of the origins and destinations of potentially infested firewood. Center research ecologist Frank Koch and partners used more than seven million federal campground reservations to model campers' travel patterns. As part of a recently published study, the researchers produced maps highlighting the riskiest areas in the lower 48 United States and seven Canadian provinces--those most likely to provide a source of insect-infested firewood. This information can help decision makers develop strategies for preventing the movement and spread of invasive insects via firewood bound for a recreational campfire. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: A camper transports firewood. Photo by Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

 

Research Communication--and Brevity--Earn Prize for Center Scientist

SHoagland_NAU.jpg“How good is the research if we can’t communicate it?” says 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 their research in plain language in just three minutes. This honing of communication skills results in a better understanding of research significance by the public, including decision makers. Hoagland is partnering with the Mescalero Apache Tribe to study the effects of forest treatments on Mexican spotted owls, a threatened species, in order to develop active management practices that sustain healthy forests as well as owl habitats. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Serra Hoagland communicates her research on forest treatments and Mexican spotted owls.

 

Scientists and Students Collaborate to Test New Forest Monitoring Technology

USM_students.jpgForest monitoring from space is made possible by special sensors aboard orbiting satellites. The ForWarn forest monitoring tool relies on MODIS sensors to collect data that researchers can use to calculate the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), or measures of vegetation greenness. The MODIS sensors were originally designed to have a six-year life span, but are now operating beyond those years. As part of the NASA DEVELOP program, Center research ecologist Bill Hargrove partnered with NASA Stennis Space Center and students from the University of Southern Mississippi to test new methods for satellite data collection and NDVI calculation using a new sensor that monitors weather and climate patterns, known as the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).  The students summarized the project in a video, which won a NASA DEVELOP “Best in Category” award.  ForWarn researchers will continue to assess the use of VIIRS data to calculate NDVI and produce maps of forest development, disturbance, and recovery.

Pictured: Students from the University of Southern Mississippi explain the project in an award winning video.

 

Featured Publication: Climate change effects in El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean region

SRSGTR193.jpgSummarizing more than 20 years of climate change research is no small task. When Puerto Rico’s El Yunque National Forest (EYNF) became one of the first to revise its land and management plan under the latest National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule (2012), Eastern Threat Center researchers and partners from EYNF and the International Institute of Tropical Forestry employed the Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO) to help. A new report presents their efforts and the best available science from more than 240 peer-reviewed literature sources covering 16 natural resource areas to satisfy the assessment process required by the new Planning Rule and to support decision making. Their findings include changes to climate change drivers and forest stressors as well as effects on ecological, physical, social, and economic resources relevant to the EYNF and other forests across Puerto Rico and the Caribbean region. Read the report, and learn more on the USDA blog… 

 

Could Increasing Climate Variability Usher In “The Age of the Mediocre Forest?”

dead_spruce_Mt.Mitchell.jpgIn 2001, when large numbers of red spruce trees began dying atop Mt. Mitchell in western North Carolina, U.S Forest Service researchers stepped in to investigate. During the four years before the researchers’ arrival, unusual drought and abnormally high air temperatures combined with acid rain pollution and a rare outbreak of southern pine beetles to wreak havoc in those forests covering the tallest peak in the eastern United States. Some red spruce trees survived through it all, providing a unique opportunity for the researchers to examine the differences between the live and the dead trees. As the significance of these differences became clear, the researchers formulated an idea that could redefine forest health and management in a world with increasing climate variability. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: The rust-colored needles of dead red spruce trees are visible across Mt. Mitchell in 2001. Photo by Johnny Boggs.

 

Center Science Rocks the Cradle of Forestry

CohenAutograph02.jpgThe Cradle of Forestry, a historic site in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest, is so named because it marks the birthplace of forest conservation in America. Now, the Cradle is celebrating a new first with the unveiling of an exhibit offering interactive opportunities for visitors to learn about climate change in the southern Appalachian region. The likenesses of Eastern Threat Center scientists Steve McNulty, Ge Sun, and Erika Cohen are featured as life-size cutouts and in videos describing their work and offering practical ideas for children and their families to conserve resources and lessen the impacts of climate change. As part of the exhibit’s opening day, the scientists themselves visited the exhibit at the Cradle’s Forest Discovery Center and shared their enthusiasm for forest science with students from the nearby Schenck Job Corps Center. Some of the students requested autographs on collectible scientist cards—a rare "rock star moment," according to McNulty. Read more in CompassLive…

Pictured: Erika Cohen, Eastern Threat Center resource information specialist, autographs a scientist card for a student on the exhibit's opening day.

 

NASA Report Highlights Benefits of ForWarn Monitoring Tool

NASA_Spinoff_2013.jpgA spinoff, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is "a technology, originally developed to meet NASA mission needs, that has been transferred to the public and now provides benefits for the Nation and world as a commercial product or service." The satellite-based ForWarn forest monitoring tool is one such spinoff, and is featured in NASA's most recent Spinoff report. Published annually since 1976, NASA Spinoff features stories and examples of technology transfer success in the fields of health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods, energy and environment, information technology, and industrial productivity. Read the ForWarn highlight and the whole issue.  

 

When It Rains, It Pours…and Increases Soil Erosion Potential in a Changing Climate When It Rains, It Pours…and Increases Soil Erosion Potential in a Changing Climate

Anyone who has seen a gully carved by water flowing over land or a muddied creek following a rainstorm has witnessed soil erosion. Beyond its messiness, water-caused soil erosion can have far reaching impacts. When nutrients and organic matter in soils are washed away, decreased soil fertility affects food production, sediment entering streams and rivers threatens water quality and wildlife, shifting soils create unstable land conditions in ecosystems and communities, and disturbed soils with reduced carbon storage abilities can contribute to global warming. In a changing climate with altered precipitation patterns, some areas in the United States may be particularly vulnerable to increased soil erosion and these related problems. Eastern Threat Center researchers and partners at North Carolina State University have identified these areas in a recently published study. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Roots are exposed due to soil erosion during a flooding event. Soil erosion can create unstable land conditions in ecosystems and communities. Photo by Randy Cyr, Greentree, Bugwood.org.

 

Researchers Track “Gray Ghosts” Across the Southern Appalachians Researchers Track “Gray Ghosts” Across the Southern Appalachians

A present-day ghost story from the southern Appalachians has captured the attention of  Eastern Threat Center researchers who are using high-tech tools to follow the footprints of lost life. The ghosts in this story are eastern and Carolina hemlock trees being killed in increasing numbers by an exotic invasive insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid, which is native to Asia and is transported through forests by animals, wind, and, accidentally, by people. Often called gray ghosts because of their pale, skeleton-like appearance, the dead hemlocks are obvious across the mountain landscape. Using a forest monitoring tool known as ForWarn, scientists are able to see just how devastating the hemlock losses have become across the southern Appalachians, where the hemlock woolly adelgid thrives in the warmer temperatures. Here, the hemlock woolly adelgid is killing trees much more quickly than in the more northern areas of the hemlocks’ range, sometimes in as few as four years after infestation. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Gray ghosts are a common sight in the southern Appalachians. A hemlock woolly adelgid infestation has killed many hemlock trees in the Linville Gorge area of Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina. Photo by Steve Norman, U.S. Forest Service.

 

Forest Service and Tribes Meet to Bridge a Gap Across Lands Forest Service and Tribes Meet to Bridge a Gap Across Lands

When tribal elders and natural resource managers come together with the Forest Service and other federal agencies, informal discussions serve to broaden goals for sustaining the environment, explains Serra Hoagland in an interview aired on KUAF public radio. Hoagland, an Eastern Threat Center biological scientist, attended the 2014 To Bridge A Gap conference, an annual event held around the nation to facilitate such discussions. Following her presentation at the conference, “Indian Forest Management & USFS Science: Combining Traditional Ecological Knowledge with New USFS Research and Development Tools,” she spoke with Jacqueline Froelich, senior news producer and station-based NPR correspondent for KUAF, which is headquartered at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. In the interview, Hoagland and Northern Research Station scientist Mike Dockry highlight tribes' traditional knowledge and practices that contribute to and serve as a model for sustainable natural resource management. Read more in CompassLive...

 

Native American Students Key to Future Tribal Forest Management

Evergreen_spring2014.jpgMany young tribal members have deep connections to the lands upon which they live and depend, and growing numbers of Native American students are enrolling in natural resource programs. Combining formal education and training with traditional knowdedge and experience, these students are uniquely positioned to pursue careers in sustainable land management and to address the challenges facing tribal communities and forests. Serra Hoagland, Eastern Threat Center biological scientist and graduate student, summarizes a variety of opportunities available to Native American students for Evergreen magazine in two co-authored articles, "Investing in the Next Generation of Indian Foresters" and "Tribal Colleges and Universities: A Critical Link in Indian Education and Workforce Development." Read the full issue.

 

National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy Showcases Priorities and Opportunities

TheNationalStrategy_April2014.jpgIn recent years, more numerous and intense incidents of wildland fire in the United States have resulted in devastating losses of property and human lives. The new realities of wildland fire require strategic investments and coordination across jurisdictions in order to confront risk and reduce loss through a combination of efforts: maintenance and restoration of resilient landscapes, creation of fire-adapted communities, and effective wildfire response. These are the goals of the recently released National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy, a multi-year project involving federal, state, local, and tribal governments; nongovernmental organizations; and public stakeholders. In order to develop a science-based Cohesive Strategy, a National Science and Analysis Team (NSAT) evaluated risks and trade-offs associated with various wildland fire management alternatives. Eastern Threat Center Director Danny C. Lee co-leads the NSAT, which will continue to support the Cohesive Strategy through its implementation.

 

Does Carbon in Wetland Soils Go With the Flow?

forested_wetland3.jpgAmong the various providers of ecosystem services, forested wetlands might be the champions. With their sponge-like abilities, they supply and purify water, protect communities from flooding, offer habitat for diverse species, produce timber and other goods, and present many opportunities for recreation and general enjoyment. Hidden in wetland soils is another critically important benefit: storage of carbon that would otherwise enter the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2), a climate-warming greenhouse gas. But what happens to this carbon when wetlands dry out because of seasonal water level fluctuations, climate variability, or land use changes related to human development? A team of researchers from North Carolina State University (NCSU) and the Eastern Threat Center may have the answer. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: While wetland soils cover only 2 to 3 percent of the total land area across the world, they may store up to 30 percent of global soil carbon.

 

'Natural IQ' Delivers Forest Science to Young Readers

Natural_IQ_2014_climate_change.jpgA new regionally-focused science journal highlights Forest Service research--just for kids! Natural IQ, the latest offering in the Natural Inquirer family of journals, features climate change science originating in the southern United States in its inaugural issue. Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Qinfeng Guo's collaborative work is the subject of one article, "North of the Border: Are Nonnative Species Moving Northward As the Climate Changes?" Aimed at middle school students, Natural IQ enhances each research article with activities that allow students to meet scientists, learn about research processes, and build vocabulary. Visit the Kid-Friendly Zone to learn more.

 

Climate Change Resource Center Releases New Interactive Education Module

CCRC_education_module.jpgClear, engaging, and scientifically accurate climate education is the first step to incorporating climate change into natural resource management. To aid busy professionals and others who wish to understand the fundamentals of climate science, the Climate Change Resource Center (CCRC) has released a new interactive online education module on basic climate change science and climate modeling. The module, “Climate Change Science and Modeling: What You Need to Know,” gives a brief overview of the climate system, greenhouse gases, climate models, current climate impacts, and future climate projections. The main material is followed by an activity that is specific to the user’s geographical region, and completing the activity will generate a personalized certificate. The Eastern Threat Center supports and contributes to the development of the CCRC.

 

International Symposium Addresses a Critical Piece of the Hydrologic Puzzle International Symposium Addresses a Critical Piece of the Hydrologic Puzzle

Evapotranspiration--the combination of evaporation and transpiration, or plant water use--is a process that can be difficult to assess, but its role in the hydrologic cycle provides important information about water supplies, ecosystem productivity, and climatic changes. In April, scientists, natural resource managers, and other experts from around the world gathered in Raleigh, NC, to share knowledge and best practices during an international symposium, "Evapotranspiration: Challenges in Measurement and Modeling from the Leaf to the Landscape Scale and Beyond." Eastern Threat Center research hydrologist Ge Sun, a co-chair of the symposium's technical committee, presented research findings and led a tour of a Center research site. Read more in CompassLive...

 

Featured Publication: TACCIMO V2.2 User Guide Featured Publication: TACCIMO V2.2 User Guide

As climate change research expands and the body of knowledge grows, the Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO) is keeping pace to connect land managers and planners with the best available science. A new guide provides helpful information about TACCIMO's organization and functionality to assist users with decision making processes. In addition to navigating users through TACCIMO's features for generating custom reports and maps, the guide explains the methods behind TACCIMO's content production and summarizes TACCIMO's role in supporting Forest Service management goals and strategic initiatives. View the user guide.

 

Researchers Turn Up the Heat on Thousand Cankers Disease Researchers Turn Up the Heat on Thousand Cankers Disease

Black walnut trees are prized by people and wildlife alike, but are especially economically valuable because of their timber products. Since 2010, these trees have been under threat in the eastern United States due to thousand cankers disease, the result of an invasive fungus carried by the walnut twig beetle. The Eastern Threat Center provided support for a Southern Research Station-led project to test heat treatments for black walnut logs. In this recently published study, researchers determined the minimum temperature and heating time required to eliminate pests and prevent the spread of thousand cankers disease if logs are transported. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Crown thinning and dieback are symptoms of thousand cankers disease. Photo by Curtis Utley, CSUE, Bugwood.org.

 

Old Microscope Sparks New Idea for Kids’ Science Club

Efroymson_Hargrove.jpgWhen he was a child, Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Bill Hargrove burnt off his eyebrows making rocket fuel, blew up a sealed jar of cultured yeast, and started a bathroom fire while doing sterile transfers for a carrot tissue culture. Fortunately, he survived his early scientific experiments and is now inspiring a new generation of young students. Hargrove and his wife, Dr. Rebecca Efroymson, are pioneering an extramural science club for 4th and 5th graders at Haw Creek Elementary School in Asheville, North Carolina. Each monthly club meeting features real-life scientists who lead lively discussions and activities about diverse scientific topics. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Drs. Efroymson and Hargrove held a recent science club meeting in Haw Creek Elementary School’s computer lab.

 

Which Tree Species are Most at Risk in a Changing Climate?

tsca1070819_WillCook.jpgA walk in the woods or a stroll on a tree-lined street could be a very different experience just a few decades from now. Higher temperatures, altered precipitation patterns, and longer growing seasons predicted for the future could require that some tree species will have to move – or be moved – into new areas where habitat will be more suitable. Some tree species may be able to stay in place by adapting to new conditions, yet others may succumb to the pressures of climate change if they are unable to adapt. Researchers with the Eastern Threat Center are developing measures to predict which tree species are most at risk. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: Carolina hemlock (Tsuga caroliniana), which grows on high-elevation slopes and ridges, is expected to lose areas of suitable habitat in a changing climate. Photo by Will Cook, www.carolinanature.com.

 

NC Museum of Natural Sciences Hosted Forest Service Research Executives NC Museum of Natural Sciences Hosted Forest Service Research Executives

The USDA Forest Service Research Executive Team explored the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences during their business meeting held at the museum’s Nature Research Center in Raleigh, NC. Forest Service research and development leaders from Washington, DC, and seven regional research stations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico participated in the three-day strategic working session. The Southern Research Station’s partnership with the museum was highlighted as a model for future collaborative science sharing opportunities.

Pictured: Southern Research Station Director Dr. Robert L. Doudrick presented museum director Dr. Emlyn Koster with a partnership appreciation coin. Photo courtesy of Perdita Spriggs, USDA Forest Service.

 

Featured Publication: 2011 Forest Health Monitoring Report Featured Publication: 2011 Forest Health Monitoring Report

Annual Forest Health Monitoring reports summarize the status, trends, and analyses of the nation's forest resources. The recently published 2011 report, edited by Eastern Threat Center cooperating scientists Kevin Potter and Barb Conkling, features chapters authored by Center scientists and cooperators that discuss a variety of forest health issues. Draft reports for 2012 and 2013 are also available online.

 

Southeast Climate Hub to Aid Landowners 'SERCH'-ing for Management Advice

SERCH_map.jpgRaleigh, North Carolina, the state's capital, is well known as a hub of cultural, educational, technological, and political activity. Now the city is gaining new attention as a hub of climate change knowledge and assistance. On February 5, 2014, US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the formation of seven Regional Hubs for Risk Adaptation and Mitigation to Climate Change. These Climate Hubs will provide science-based information and outreach to help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners manage resources in the face of climate change and related threats, such as wildfire, invasive species, drought, and extreme weather. Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Steve McNulty is the Director of the USDA Southeast Regional Climate Hub, or SERCH, based at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. "The main objective is to take the good science that's already been done, make sure it gets converted into usable land management practices, and get that information to the landowner," says McNulty. SERCH is a collaborative effort involving staff from USDA's Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Agricultural Research Service as well as numerous partnering organizations. A SERCH "sub hub" located in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico, will be focused on issues relevant to resource management in the Caribbean. Read more in CompassLive and the USDA blog, and listen to interviews with Steve McNulty in podcasts from WUNC and WCOM.

Pictured: The USDA Southeast Regional Climate Hub serves eleven southeastern states.

 

Multi-year Project Results in Management Guide for Changing Southern Forests

CCAMMO_CRCPress.jpgSince 2010, collaborating scientists and land managers from across the southern United States have pooled knowledge and expertise with one goal in mind: to provide a "state-of-the-science" analysis that can support forest management decision making through changing conditions. Their work under the Southern Research Station-led Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Management Options (CCAMMO) project has now been published as a comprehensive guide for science-based efforts to reduce forest threats and ensure continued production of valuable goods and ecosystem services. Eastern Threat Center scientists co-authored several chapters in the CCAMMO book, addressing the topics of water stress, wildfire, invasive species, carbon sequestration, and more. Read more in CompassLive...

 

Tribal Partnerships Highlight Climate Change Challenges and Opportunities Tribal Partnerships Highlight Climate Change Challenges and Opportunities

Managers of tribal lands are facing unprecedented challenges to natural resource sustainability due to climate change and related disturbances. Working with partners, including scientists and staff from the Southern Research Station and Eastern Threat Center, tribal land managers are gaining an edge with access to tools and resources to support planning activities and are collaborating to reach shared conservation goals across all lands. Lori Barrow, Forest Service liaison to the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative, describes a recent climate change adaptation planning workshop and a new effort to preserve culturally significant native plants in the Forest Service Office of Tribal Relations winter newsletter.

Pictured: Echinacea is a culturally significant native plant used in tribal herbal medicines. Image by USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

 

From Forests to Water Supplies, Researchers Evaluate Tools for Predicting Nitrogen Fertilizer Runoff From Forests to Water Supplies, Researchers Evaluate Tools for Predicting Nitrogen Fertilizer Runoff

Plants require nitrogen to grow and thrive, and often receive a boost from applications of nitrogen-containing fertilizer. But increased plant growth and yield can be at the expense of water quality when fertilizer runs off into rivers, lakes, and streams. A group of researchers reviewed a series of models used to predict nitrogen’s movement from managed forests through the surrounding environment, identifying the strengths and limitations of each model. The researchers concluded that, given landscape and management complexities, no single model can adequately address nitrogen’s fate following fertilizer use in southern U.S. forests. Eastern Threat Center research hydrologist Ge Sun is among the co-authors of this Southern Research Station-led study, and researchers tested one of the models using a Center research site in coastal North Carolina consisting of loblolly pine plantations. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: A managed loblolly pine plantation - Photo by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

 

Students Experience Hands-on Forest Science

tree_core_demonstration.jpgCenter researchers in Raleigh, NC, recently engaged area students in forest science discussions and demonstrations. Biological scientists Johnny Boggs and Michael Gavazzi presented climate change research and related forest management issues to an environmental science class at Knightdale High School and assisted the students with tree measurements on campus. Boggs also led forest management students from Wayne Community College on a tour of a Best Management Practices (BMPs) research site where they gained understanding of how BMPs are properly implemented to protect water quality during forestry operations. Through these and a variety of activities and partnerships, the Eastern Threat Center supports the Forest Service’s conservation education mission.

Pictured: Michael Gavazzi assists a student during a tree coring activity.

 

TACCIMO’s Climate Change Science Aids Forest Planning in South Carolina TACCIMO’s Climate Change Science Aids Forest Planning in South Carolina

The Francis Marion National Forest in coastal South Carolina faces a unique set of natural resource management challenges. And since the forest’s land and resource management plan was last revised in 1996, new disturbances, including climate change impacts, have emerged as issues of concern. The Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO) has been a useful tool for the forest’s planning team who compiled a broad assessment of forest trends and conditions as part of a new management plan currently in development. This team, among the first in the nation to revise its management plan under the U.S. Forest Service’s new Planning Rule, utilized TACCIMO’s in-depth scientific literature reviews and climate projections relevant to Francis Marion to prepare the assessment. The Eastern Threat Center’s TACCIMO team assisted the forest planners with generating this information and provided user-friendly summaries for stakeholders and the forest’s surrounding community. The draft assessment is now available for public review and comment. For additional information about this effort, visit the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative website, and read more in CompassLive...

 

Forest Service Chief Honors Eastern Threat Center Research Forest Service Chief Honors Eastern Threat Center Research

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell (left) has announced the winners of the 2013 Chief's Honor Awards. The ForWarn team, including scientists and staff from the Eastern and Western Threat Centers and partnering organizations, received the 2013 Chief’s Award for Sustaining Forests and Grasslands. Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Steve McNulty was recognized for his research of global climate-related societal impacts with the 2013 Chief’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology. The Chief's Awards, which acknowledge outstanding achievements related to the Forest Service's strategic objectives, are among the highest honors in the agency. Awards will be presented during a ceremony on March 17. Read the news release...

 

Eastern Threat Center Expertise Helps Guide Forest Health Monitoring Program Eastern Threat Center Expertise Helps Guide Forest Health Monitoring Program

The Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring (FHM) Program relies on a Management Team to provide input regarding the direction and scope of FHM activities. In a new appointment, Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Frank Koch (left) represents Forest Service Research and Development on the team whose primary role is to advise the FHM National Program Manager. The team also assists in making decisions about the FHM Program’s engagement in topics discussed at the biennial FHM Workgroup Meeting. (The 2014 meeting will focus on urban forest health; forest decline; and restoration strategies, techniques, alternatives, and resources.) Eastern Threat Center research ecologist Kurt Riitters served on the Management Team prior to Koch’s appointment.

 

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