Forest Health Across the Globe
According to the World Wildlife Federation, eighty percent of the world’s terrestrial plant and animal species make their home in the forest and a square kilometer of forest may be home to more than 1,000 species. That’s why scientists in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center have partnered with the U.S. Forest Service International Programs over the past several years to help improve vital forests globally. FWRC scientists have embarked on a three-year grant to study forest health and ecosystem services across the globe in the U.S., China, Cambodia, and Argentina, among other locations. Dr. Andy Kouba, professor and head of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, is the grant’s principal investigator and is involved in two of the grant’s projects, both in China. The first project, focused on giant pandas, includes Dr. Carrie Vance, associate research professor in biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology and plant pathology and MAFES scientist, and Dr. Guiming Wang, wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture professor and FWRC scientist.
The other project reintroduces Chinese giant salamanders back into the wild. Dr. Wes Neal, extension and research professor in wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture, alongside Dr. Peter Allen, professor, are on a project in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Cambodian government to help start a community fishery with villages along the Sre Ambel River in Cambodia. Dr. Sandra Correa, wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture assistant professor, received funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, and its Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish, housed at MSU, to measure the project’s efficacy and continue other efforts along the Sre Ambel River. The grant also supports research led by Dr. John Riggins, professor in biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology and plant pathology and MAFES scientist, who is studying the European wood wasp, an invasive species affecting pine forests in Argentina. This research is funded by the U.S. Forest Service International Programs, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish.
Covering the Basics
A common misconception of hunters is that plentiful food supply equals frequent visits by white-tailed deer or wild turkey to a specific habitat. Hunters plant food plots, place spin feeders, yet don’t see the wildlife activity for which they had planned. What is missing from the equation is an equally important factor—cover. That is why researchers in the MSU Forest and Wildlife Research Center set out to study how vegetation characteristics including food availability and cover affect intensity of habitat use by animals. Dr. Bronson Strickland, the St. John Family Professor of Wildlife Management in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture and FWRC researcher, and Dr. Garrett Street, wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture associate professor and FWRC scientist, sought to understand the relationship between food and cover.
Research sites offered either exclusively cover, food, both, or neither. Eighty camera stations were placed and ran continuously over a year recording when an animal entered the area and the vegetation characteristics in proximity. The data was analyzed, and researchers used a mathematical equation to determine probability of wildlife occurrence. This work is funded through the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, and the MSU Foundation’s Bulldog Forest.
A Toolkit for Gulf Restoration
Scientists in MSU’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center have collaborated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to build a toolkit to make planning strategic conservation across the Gulf much easier. Dr. Kristine Evans, an FWRC scientist in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture is developing tools that estimate the environmental benefits of a proposed project in order to help researchers, states, and agencies better plan and fund land conservation projects along the Gulf.