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Scientists & Staff

Research Soil Scientist Mary Beth Adams sampling soil.

Mary Beth Adams

Research Soil Scientist
Ecology and Management of Invasive Species and Forest Ecosystems
180 Canfield Street
Morgantown, West Virginia 26505
Phone: 304-285-1520

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Current Research

  • Much of my current research deals with nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems as affected by different management and disturbance regimes. I conduct long-term experiments and particularly enjoy working collaboratively particularly in cross-site studies, with other scientists in the Forest Service, and scientists at universities and other agencies.
  • I work to understand how water and nutrients move through forests to help land managers get manage these precious resources.
  • I am an investigator on the Fernow Watershed Acidification Study, which is using ammonium sulfate fertilizer to look at acidification of an entire forested watershed; This long term experiment, in its 25th year, is a National Science Foundation LTREB (long-Term Research in Environmental Biology) site and has fostered many graduate and undergraduate research projects.
  • I am also evaluating the role of soil nutrients in sustaining the long-term productivity and diversity of Appalachian hardwood forests. This latter study is affiliated with the international Long Term Soil Productivity Study.
  • I am a strong supporter of Experimental Forests and Ranges, and spent a significant amount of time in managing the Fernow Experimental Forest, as well as representing the NRS on the Experimental Forests and Ranges chartered working group, of which I was a founding member.

Research Interests

  • I conduct long-term experiments and particularly enjoy working collaboratively particularly in cross-site studies, with other scientists in the Forest Service, and scientists at universities and other agencies.
  • I am interested in developing management recommendations for ecosystem restoration and/or rehabilitation. The high elevation red spruce ecosystem in the Appalachians is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the U.S.; I started my research career with the Forest Service in red spruce work, and continue to particpate in research projects in this endangered ecosystem.
  • The effects of air pollutants on forest resources is a continuing research area, including evaluation of alternatives/opportunities for restoration.
  • I am also interested in evaluating the effects of energy development on natural resources

Why This Research is Important

Long-term research is a hallmark of Forest Service research. It is important for us to understand that the trends we are observing are due to various management treatments or other causal factors, and not just due to annual variability in rainfall and temperature. My research will help us better manage our forests sustainably for many years


  • North Carolina State University, Ph.D. Soil Science and Forestry, 1986
  • Purdue University, M.S. Forestry, 1982
  • Forestry Purdue University, B.S. Forestry, 1980

Professional Organizations

  • Soil Science Society of America
  • Society of American Foresters
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Association for Women in Science
  • West Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientists

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

A Tale of Nitrogen Retention From Two Watersheds (2014)
Because elevated nitrogen loading can impair terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, understanding the origins, retention, and export of nitrogen from forested watersheds is crucial. Forest Service scientists at Fernow Experimental Forest and Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory analyzed long-term watershed studies to demonstrate the important effects of atmospheric deposition, history of disturbance, and biological inputs on the ability of a forest to keep nitrogen out of streams.

Guidelines for Forest Biomass Utilization (2012)
Online resource offers environmentally and economically sound biomass utilization in the Appalachian Mountains

Ozone and Climate Change Interact to Affect Streamflow (2013)
Climate change is affecting the Nation's forests, but not in isolation. Tropospheric ozone has long been known to affect the health of individual trees. Recent research by Forest Service scientists and partners shows that ozone and climate change can interact to change how forests use water at the watershed scale.

Writing Appalachian Ecology: Essays and Outreach (2013)
In the summer of 2012 and 2013, students from West Virginia University's English Department, along with their instructors, participated in an unusual course focused on exploring, experiencing, and writing about the Fernow Experimental Forest. The course, Writing Appalachian Ecology, aimed to bridge the gap between sciences and humanities. Both the students and the Forest Service scientists involved in the course learned much about communication from each other.

Last updated on : 12-Nov-2015