Forest Biology and Watershed Management Stories
Ash’s Fight for Life
As the emerald ash borer wreaks havoc on ash trees, FWRC researchers seek to control the insect and plan for long-term restoration efforts when an invasion takes place. Dr. Josh Granger, assistant professor in the Department of Forestry, said while scientists can’t prevent the pest from killing trees, they have learned that diversifying stands provides forest managers with control and restoration efforts. Samples were taken from 37 states supporting at least one of the six native ash species found in the eastern United States. The team found that plots with white, green, and blue ash had a higher tree species diversity than those with black, Carolina, or pumpkin ash. The work helps them plan for specific ash species with small ranges where there won’t be a lot of alternatives for replacing them.
“The big thing to do is to prepare ahead of time. Look at ways that you can incorporate other native or valued species into the system,” Granger said. This research was funded by the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Program. Data was collected from the Forestry Inventory and Analysis Program.
Growing Old Forests
Plantation pine trees, which cover over 37 million acres in the Southeastern United States, provide a multitude of environmental benefits while generating revenue for landowners. As a tree grows, the quality of the wood increases and forest economists in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center recently studied how expanded tree harvest would improve landowners’ profit margin. Economists found that while harvesting even-aged loblolly pine at 10 years would bring in $5.06 per ton, pine harvested at 30 years would sell for $37.92 per ton. Scientists presented these results to sawmills and surveyed to see if they would pay a premium for this pine harvested on a delayed rotation. Over half answered they would pay a premium to purchase this Grade 1 sawtimber.
Implementing delayed harvests benefit both the landowner financially and environmentally by raising their selling price and providing habitat for wildlife.
With rising southern pine beetle outbreaks, researchers in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center and the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station assessed the impact southern pine beetles, bluestain fungus, and subterranean termites have on a pine ecosystem. Drs. Courtney Siegert and John Riggins studied the relationships between pine beetles and termites. They found that some termite species preferentially fed on wood from bark-beetle-killed trees and that the presence of bluestain fungi lived on the pine beetles. While they hope to expand aspects of the work to continue to obtain answers on beetle and termite impacts, researchers did discover that decomposer communities took nitrogen reservoirs from the soil and put it into the wood to help it decompose.