News and Events
Prescribed fire every two years had no impact on the growth or survival of mature longleaf pines – even when prescribed fire was conducted in the growing season, finds long-term experiment. USDA Forest Service scientist John Willis led a study comparing stands of Pinus palustris burned in winter, spring, and summer.
Loblolly pine trees may tolerate some fungal infection if they can form new sapwood. USDA Forest Service plant physiologist Mary Anne Sword Sayer, on a team with Ph.D. candidate John K. Mensah of Auburn University’s Forest Health Cooperative, conducted two studies in Alabama, one of young trees and one of mature trees.
Among their many benefits, prescribed fires can protect southeastern pine woodlands from encroachment – the process of fire-sensitive species expanding into fire-maintained woodlands.
Before the advent of modern boats, wooden ships made up the navies of our world. Naval stores – pitch, tar, turpentine, and rosin – were used to caulk seams, preserve ropes, and maintain the seaworthiness of wooden ships. Naval stores also found many other uses prior to the modern petrochemical era.
Forests of the southern U.S. are among the most productive and intensively managed in the world. Disturbances naturally alter forest stands, sometimes creating conditions that benefit plant or animal communities, but can cause major economic losses to landowners. What’s more, the impacts from one disturbance may invite other disturbances – dead and damaged trees can attract bark beetles, wood-boring beetles, or diseases.
In 2019, Janet Hinchee, the USDA Forest Service Regional Silviculturist for the South invited me to coordinate the Southern Pine Module, a ten day workshop for the Forest Service National Advanced Silviculture Program. But this year, the field session was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Janet Hinchee was really disappointed that the session might be cancelled, and she asked the best question – why not do the lecture part online? I guess you could say I reluctantly agreed!
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 their needles, fire should be applied between March and May,” says Mary Anne Sayer, a USDA Forest Service research plant physiologist.
CRiSPE represents a framework for centralizing research being done by the Southern Research Station on the restoration and management of southern pine ecosystems. This story map provides an overview of unit and personnel locations, unit research, experimental forests, and southern pine ranges.
In the early 1800s, longleaf pine-dominated forests stretched from eastern Texas to southern Virginia and south into central Florida. These forests covered about 90 million acres — nearly the size of the state of Montana.
Today, what once covered 90 million acres is less than 5 million acres, which would easily fit into New Jersey.
We recently collaborated with Auburn University to produce a website about the Pro-B method. Topics include ecological foundations for the system, historical approaches, common misperceptions, and methodology.
Silvicultural histories are recognized by forestry professionals from the United Kingdom to Arkansas. The Editorial Board of Forestry, an international journal of forest research, recently awarded USDA Forest Service research forester Don Bragg the 2017 Percy Stubbs, John Bolton King and Edward Garfitt Prize for Silviculture for advancing silviculture research.
In a recent study, Southern Research Station (SRS) and Alabama A&M University researchers found that temperature changes may be related to a shift in the density of longleaf pine pollen. Their findings have implications for cone crops, seed production, and future long-term sustainability.
The taller a tree grows, the wider its trunk becomes. “It’s a fundamental relationship,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Dale Brockway.
Scientists use math to describe this height-diameter relationship. But one of the mathematical constants – a scaling exponent of 2/3 – is not always so constant, according to a recent study by Brockway and Xiongwen Chen. Chen led the study, which was published in the Journal of Plant Studies.
Every year, U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Dale Brockway attempts to answer this question. His most recent report suggests that 2017 will be a good year for longleaf pine cone production. “Across the region, we expect longleaf pines to produce an average of about 62 cones per tree,” says Brockway.
Some plants are homebodies and refuse to thrive in new areas. “Plants have unique abilities to thrive where they grow but moving plants outside their genetically adapted environment might cause them not to grow as well,” says Joan Walker, SRS research plant ecologist.
Hurricanes and other major storms cause billions of dollars of damage to southern timber resources. If you add the increased risk of wildfire, insect infestations, and disease that accompany downed wood, you have millions of acres of forests vulnerable to further harm after the hurricane’s gone.
Over the past decade, U.S. Forest Service researchers have been working with university cooperators to find some way to slow down or stop the relentless spread of cogongrass. In late 2014, Auburn University researchers reported results that demonstrated, for the first time, that patches of cogongrass can be eliminated completely within three years — showing that eradication of the invasive plant is actually possible for many land managers.
Guidelines for Regenerating Southern Pine Beetle Spots, a general technical report (GTR) by the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS), provides detailed guidance for regenerating pines in areas within forest stands where trees have been killed by the southern pine beetle.
The longleaf pine tree is a finicky and slow seed producer, and scientists have long suspected that fluctuations in seed production are related to climate. U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Qinfeng Guo and colleagues recently found evidence of a complicated relationship between seed production and climate.
Dale Brockway, research ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS), recently published his annual summary of projected longleaf pine cone production for 2016 and 2017. The report shows an overall failure of the crop for 2016, and a fair outlook for 2017.
On April 6, 2016, scientists from the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station 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.”
Longleaf pine ecosystems once covered an estimated 80 to 90 million acres across the southeastern U.S. – from Virginia to Texas – but by 1995, only about 2.4 million acres remained. Timber harvesting, land use change, and fire suppression contributed to longleaf pine’s decline.
Like most regions of the U.S., the future of the Mid-South forests of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas is one of challenge. A report by the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station outlines those challenges and presents options for managing forests over the next half century.
Longleaf Pine Cone Prospects for 2015 and 2016-Regional summary for U.S. Southeast available
Dale Brockway, research ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS), recently published his yearly summary of projected longleaf pine cone production for 2015 and 2016. The report shows that the Southeast can expect a poor longleaf pine cone crop in October 2015.
“Our estimates show the 2015 crop averaging only 12.4 cones per tree,” says Brockway, who is stationed at the SRS Restoring and Managing Longleaf Pine Ecosystems unit in Auburn, Alabama. “It’s not unusual for a large cone crop, such as that which occurred last year, to be followed by a much smaller crop during the next year.”Access the full report for 2015 and 2016
Pro-B, a method developed by U.S. Forest Service research, helps make uneven-aged management of longleaf pine and other forest types a practical and efficient option for landowners and managers. A field study by researchers showed that after less than three hours of training on the Pro-B (proportional basal area) method, managers were able to accurately mark stands using only a single marking pass.
On April 25, James Barnett (left, with Larry Stanley) was inducted into the 2015 Louisiana State University (LSU) Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries Alumni Hall of Fame in recognition of the nearly five decades he’s spent conducting research for the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station. The work he’s done to improve the success of reforesting major pine species of the southern United States — and more importantly, the dissemination of the practical implications of that research — has truly set Barnett above his peers.
Longleaf pine trees once rose to the sky on more than 90 million acres across the Southeast, towering over grasses and flowers and providing habitat for many animals that are now rare. Less than 3 million acres of these forests remain, but returning degraded ecosystems to longleaf pine forests is a priority for many managers and organizations.
Over the past decade, U.S. Forest Service researchers have been working with university cooperators to find some way to slow down or stop the relentless spread of cogongrass. This last fall, Auburn University researchers reported results that demonstrate, for the first time, that patches of cogongrass can be eliminated completely within three years — showing that eradication of the invasive plant is actually possible for many land managers.
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,” says U.S. Forest Service scientist Dale Brockway. “However, in recent decades, their ecological, economic, and cultural importance has come to be increasingly valued.”