Forest Biology and Watershed Management Stories
Graduate Research Aimed to Expand and Modernize Multiple Species Planting
Graduate student Darcey Collins grew up surrounded by hardwood forests and pine plantations and followed her father and grandfather in pursuing a career in protecting forests. Collins earned her bachelor's degree from MSU and as a graduate student, she has taken opportunities to get involved in the department, such as becoming an officer in the Forestry Graduate Student Association. Her research focuses on diversifying managed forests by planting multiple hardwood species under a pre-existing canopy and observing growth success. She had success planting and establishing hardwood seedlings on a pine plantation within the boundaries of the Bankhead National Forest in Northern Alabama. While her degree program is complete, the trees continue to grow.
She believes her work might contribute to future research that will help nonindustrial private landowners transition from single-species pine plantations to mixed plantations that include higher value hardwood species.
Undergraduate Student Ashlyn Naylor Excelling in Soil Research
Growing up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, with the Appalachian Mountains in her backyard, Ashlyn Naylor was drawn to the outdoors from an early age. In high school and as an undergraduate, she worked at the Southeast Conservation Corps, where she helped restore hiking areas and trails and built bridges. Having worked as a soil technician in Dr. Courtney Siegert's laboratory, Naylor has contributed to a project examining the effects of forest restoration activities on water quality and the forest's soil. She and Siegert, an associate professor in the Department of Forestry, wanted to determine if the environment is helped or hurt by restoration efforts. She has also assisted with other research projects, such as monitoring the sap flow in willow trees, and growing eastern cottonwoods and monitoring the groundwater, soil, and insects that affect those plots.
Naylor's experience in the lab, which has helped her gain a greater understanding of the science behind nature, inspired her to continue her studies in graduate school.
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.