SRS-4160 – Forest Genetics and Ecosystems Productivity

Saucier, MS, Research Triangle Park, NC, College Station, TX, Gainesville, FL
Project Leader: C. Dana Nelson


To advance the scientific understanding of the roles of genetics, environment, and their interactions to provide guidelines and tools for improving the sustainable productivity of southern forest ecosystems.

Research Teams:

Southern Institute of Forest Genetics
Team Leader: C. Dana Nelson, Saucier, MS

Southern Institute of Forest Ecosystems Productivity
Team Leader: Kurt H. Johnsen, Research Triangle Park, NC

Problem 1. Genetics and Genomics

The unit will conduct genetic and structural genomics research on forest trees and their pests with applications in evolutionary biology, forest management, and tree improvement. Knowing the genes and their effects on traits that interact with other organisms and the environment will lead to breakthroughs in our understanding of ecosystem structure and function and development of new technologies for forest management. click for more...

Problem 2. Physiological Processes

The unit will conduct physiological and functional genomics research on forest trees with applications in tree improvement and forest ecosystem restoration and management. This work will provide a basis for conducting benefit/risk analyses so that managers can use state-of-the-art science to best manage forests for productivity and long-term sustainability. click for more...

Problem 3. Carbon and Nutrient Cycling

The unit will conduct research that integrates molecular, cellular, physiologic, geologic, and ecologic principles and system approaches to explain processes governing carbon and nutrient cycling for applications in sustainable forest management. We are only beginning to understand the complex array of processes associated with ecosystem health. Changing one aspect of a forest ecosystem (for example, fertilization) may increase productivity of the currently desired product (for example, timber). However it will also perturb and modify other important aspects of forest function such as below-ground process. Only by improving our understanding of how processes are impacted, and then interact with other processes, can we predict the ramifications of management actions and/or climate change on long-term forest sustainability. click for more...

Environmental considerations

The program of research proposed includes experimental activities that are generally limited in scope and intensity and are not expected to degrade the quality of the forest or human environment. The environmental effects of specific actions will be considered during the development of study plans, as well as the existence of extraordinary circumstances related to any proposed action, and categorical exclusion will be documented as a part of the study plan according to FSH 1909.15, Chapter 30.

For research involving the use of toxicants, environmental considerations will be evaluated within individual study plans, or by Environmental Assessments (EA) or Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) prepared with or reviewed by the cooperating District or Forest staffs. For research having the potential to affect a plant or animal species that is federally listed as endangered or threatened or proposed for such listing, the principal investigator will consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as per Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended.

Key Cooperators and Partners

Our research is conducted in partnership with academic and industrial scientists from around the world and professional resource managers from across the Southern Region. Key contacts with whom we currently have cooperative agreements, active studies and collaborations, or consultations include the following organizations:

  • Universities: Auburn University; Boston University; College of Charleston; Duke University; Louisiana State University; Mississippi State University; North Carolina State University; Oklahoma State University; Old Dominion University; Oregon State University; Shaw University; Texas A&M University; University of Missouri; University of Florida; University of Georgia; University of Idaho; Virginia Tech.
  • Federal Agencies: Brookhaven National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy; The National Arboretum, USDA Agricultural Research Service; Southern Region (Region 8), National Forests in Mississippi, DeSoto National Forest and DeSoto Ranger District, Southern Area Forest Health Protection, USDA Forest Service; Jackson Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • State Agencies: Arkansas Forestry Commission; Georgia Forestry Commission; Mississippi Forestry Commission; Missouri Department of Conservation; Texas Forest Service
  • Private organizations: Plum Creek Timber Company, Weyerhaeuser Company, International Paper Company, Temple-Inland, Inc., MeadWestvaco, Rayonier, Inc., ArborGen, LLC, CellFor, Inc., Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, The American Chestnut Foundation
  • International institutions: Canadian Forest Service; Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague; North American Forestry Commission; Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; Universidad de Concepción