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New Station Publications

Welcome to the electronic version of the Northern Research Station's New Publications List 3 - 2015

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Northern Research Station

  1.  GTR-NRS-145.  Mapping pyrophilic percentages across the northeastern United States using witness trees, with focus on four national forests.  Thomas-Van Gundy, Melissa A.; Nowacki, Gregory J.; Cogbill, Charles V.  26 p.  

Witness trees provide information fundamental for restoration ecology, often serving as baselines for forest composition and structure. Furthermore, when categorized by fire relations, witness trees can shed light on past disturbance regimes. Kriging was applied to witness-tree point data to form a contiguous surface of pyrophilic percentage for four national forests in the northeastern United States. Fire was found to be an important disturbance agent on the Allegheny and Finger Lakes National Forests, often corresponding to large river systems and lakesides where Native American activities were concentrated. In contrast, fire was relatively unimportant on the Green Mountain and White Mountain National Forests based on the witness-tree record. There, the cool, moist year-round climate, coupled with lower Native American population densities, greatly subdued fire, supporting the local view of these as "asbestos" forests. When applying this method to town-level witness-tree data for the entire northeastern United States, we found a distinct east-west line dividing areas of high (south) and low (north) pyrophilic percentage. Known as the tension zone line, the undulating character of this boundary, penetrating northward along major river valleys, underscores the importance of Native Americans as a disturbance agent on the presettlement landscape.


  2.  GTR-NRS-146.  Central Appalachians forest ecosystem vulnerability assessment and synthesis: a report from the Central Appalachians Climate Change Response Framework project.  Butler, Patricia R.; Iverson, Louis; Thompson, Frank R.; Brandt, Leslie; Handler, Stephen; Janowiak, Maria; Shannon, P. Danielle; Swanston, Chris; Karriker, Kent; Bartig, Jarel; Connolly, Stephanie; Dijak, William; Bearer, Scott; Blatt, Steve; Brandon, Andrea; Byers, Elizabeth; Coon, Cheryl; Culbreth, Tim; Daly, Jad; Dorsey, Wade; Ede, David; Euler, Chris; Gillies, Neil; Hix, David M.; Johnson, Catherine; Lyte, Latasha; Matthews, Stephen; McCarthy, Dawn; Minney, Dave; Murphy, Daniel; O?Dea, Claire; Orwan, Rachel; Peters, Matthew; Prasad, Anantha; Randall, Cotton; Reed, Jason; Sandeno, Cynthia; Schuler, Tom; Sneddon, Lesley; Stanley, Bill; Steele, Al; Stout, Susan; Swaty, Randy; Teets, Jason; Tomon, Tim; Vanderhorst, Jim; Whatley, John; Zegre, Nicholas.  310 p.  

Forest ecosystems in the Central Appalachians will be affected directly and indirectly by a changing climate over the 21st century. This assessment evaluates the vulnerability of forest ecosystems in the Central Appalachian Broadleaf Forest-Coniferous Forest-Meadow and Eastern Broadleaf Forest Provinces of Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland for a range of future climates. Information on current forest conditions, observed climate trends, projected climate changes, and impacts on forest ecosystems was considered by a multidisciplinary panel of scientists, land managers, and academics in order to assess ecosystem vulnerability to climate change. Appalachian (hemlock)/northern hardwood forests, large stream floodplain and riparian forests, small stream riparian forests, and spruce/fir forests were determined to be the most vulnerable. Dry/mesic oak forests and dry oak and oak/pine forests and woodlands were determined to be least vulnerable. Projected changes in climate and the associated impacts and vulnerabilities will have important implications for economically valuable timber species, forest-dependent wildlife and plants, recreation, and long-term natural resource planning.


  3.  GTR-NRS-147.  Sampling and measurement protocols for long-term silvicultural studies on the Penobscot Experimental Forest.  Waskiewicz, Justin D.; Kenefic, Laura S.; Rogers, Nicole S.; Puhlick, Joshua J.; Brissette, John C.; Dionne, Richard J.  310 p.  

The U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station has been conducting research on the silviculture of northern conifers on the Penobscot Experimental Forest (PEF) in Maine since 1950. Formal study plans provide guidance and specifications for the experimental treatments, but documentation is also needed to ensure consistency in data collection and sampling protocols. This guide details current sampling and measurement protocols for three of the longest running Forest Service experiments on the PEF: (1) the management intensity demonstration (1950 to present), (2) the compartment management study (1952 to present), and (3) the auxiliary selection cutting study (1953-present). Each of these long-term stand-scale experiments use plot-based measurements of trees taken at periodic intervals. Additional data collected vary and include regeneration, recruitment, and mortality; amount, size, and decay of dead wood; and stand structural characteristics such as heights, crown dimensions, and spatial locations of trees. Descriptions provided here are the basis for data collection in the relevant studies on the PEF, inform interpretation of the published databases, and serve as a model for silvicultural studies elsewhere.


  4.  GTR-NRS-148.  A regeneration indicator for Forest Inventory and Analysis: history, sampling, estimation, analytics, and potential use in the midwest and northeast United States.  McWilliams, William H.; Westfall, James A.; Brose, Patrick H.; Dey, Daniel C.; Hatfield, Mark; Johnson, Katherine; Laustsen, Kenneth M.; Lehman, Shawn L.; Morin, Randall S.; Nelson, Mark D.; Ristau, Todd E.; Royo, Alejandro A.; Stout, Susan L.; Willard, Thomas; Woodall, Christopher W.  310 p.  

The density and composition of regeneration drives future forest character for forests in need of replacement. Forested ecosystems face numerous regeneration stressors including invasive plants, insects and diseases, herbivory, lack of management, and climate change. As stands that make up these systems age, it is imperative to track the viability of forest reproduction. The information required for understanding the complexity of forest dynamics during the stand establishment stage has been lacking in our Nation's forest inventory. This poses a particular problem for analysts working with the major deciduous forest systems of the Midwest and Northeast United States that require detailed information on advance reproduction. To address this need, the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station (NRS) has added protocols for measuring all established tree seedlings and for assessing browse impact. This information is compiled using new NRS-FIA forest sampling and analytical methodologies—the regeneration indicator. The regeneration indicator is described along with examples and suggestions to guide research on the difficult question of whether the region?s forests are able to regenerate in the face of numerous stressors.


  5.  GTR-NRS-149.  Paper birch (Wiigwaas) of the Lake States, 1980-2010.  Moser, W. Keith; Hansen, Mark H.; Gormanson, Dale; Gilbert, Jonathan; Wrobel, Alexandra; Emery, Marla R.; Dockry, Michael J.  310 p.  

Data on paper birch (Betula papyrifera L.; wiigwaas in the Ojibwe language), collected by the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the U.S. Forest Service on forested lands in the Great Lakes region (Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) from 1980 through 2010, are reported. Also presented are results and analysis of a supplemental inventory designed to identify the characteristics of paper birch bark that influenced Native American harvesters' evaluation of potential uses (e.g., baskets, canoes). Paper birch has long been an important part of the daily life and culture of the Great Lakes Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) people. The Ojibwe and other Native American tribes of the Upper Midwest signed treaties in 1836, 1837, 1842, and 1854 ceding land ("ceded territories") in northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota to the Federal government, but retaining certain rights in the region. To help implement these retained rights on national forests in the ceded territories, member tribes of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and the U.S. Forest Service entered into a memorandum of understanding which, among other things, provides for tribes to regulate their members' harvest of nontimber forest products (including paper birch bark) on national forest lands. The U.S. Forest Service, GLIFWC, and tribal harvesters created a supplement to the FIA inventory protocol to provide a detailed inventory of birch bark characteristics. These data were collected on FIA plots in 2004, 2005, and 2006 in conjunction with the standard forest inventory annual panels. Forest land in the ceded territories contains 65.9 percent of all paper birch trees ≥5 inches diameter at breast height (d.b.h.) and 66.2 percent of the large (≥11 inches d.b.h.) paper birch trees in the Great Lakes region. The number of birch trees has decreased by 49 percent and total bark supply has decreased by 45.5 percent on forest land in the ceded territories since 1980. The proportion of paper birch bark found in the larger diameter trees has increased. The decline in paper birch, both in number and as a proportion of all trees, across the ceded territories should not materially diminish near-term bark harvest in the region as a whole, but may do so in selected locations. But the long-term trend suggests a lack of regeneration and a continued decrease in the total number of trees across the region.


  6.  GTR-NRS-152.  Wildland fire management futures: insights from a foresight panel.  Olson, Robert L.; Bengston, David N.; DeVaney, Leif A.; Thompson, Trevor A.C.  310 p.  

Wildland fire management faces unprecedented challenges in the 21st century: the increasingly apparent effects of climate change, more people and structures in the wildland-urban interface, growing costs associated with wildfire management, and the rise of high-impact fires, to name a few. Given these significant and growing challenges, conventional fire management approaches are unlikely to be effective in the future. Innovative and forward-looking approaches are needed. This study explored wildland fire management futures by using methods and diverse perspectives from futures research. To gain foresight for wildland fire management, we convened a foresight panel consisting of seven leading academic and professional futurists outside of the wildfire community and two wildfire professionals. We engaged the panelists in a series of structured online discussions to elicit their insights and perspectives on the future of wildland fire management. There are five broad areas where the foresight panel members were in full agreement. (1) The level of uncertainty about external developments and future conditions that will set the context for wildland fire management is significantly greater than is recognized in current planning. (2) As conditions change, the traditional fire prevention and suppression approach to wildfire management will prove unsustainable. (3) A new fire resilience approach is emerging as an alternative to traditional viewpoints and practices. (4) All the major strategies needed to implement this approach are already familiar to wildfire managers. (5) There are strong short-term barriers to adopting the fire resilience approach, but the panelists believe its adoption is nearly inevitable between now and mid-century.


  7.  RB-NRS-95.  Forests of Vermont and New Hampshire 2012.  Morin, Randall S.; Barnett, Chuck J.; Butler, Brett J.; Crocker, Susan J.; Domke, Grant M.; Hansen, Mark H.; Hatfield, Mark A.; Horton, Jonathan; Kurtz, Cassandra M.; Lister, Tonya W.; Miles, Patrick D.; Nelson, Mark D.; Piva, Ronald J.; Wilmot, Sandy; Widmann, Richard H.; Woodall, Christopher W.; Zaino, Robert.  310 p.  

The first full remeasurement of the annual inventory of the forests of Vermont and New Hampshire was completed in 2012 and covers nearly 9.5 million acres of forest land, with an average volume of nearly 2,300 cubic feet per acre. The data in this report are based on visits to 1,100 plots located across Vermont and 1,091 plots located across New Hampshire. Forest land is dominated by the maple/beech/birch forest-type group, which occupies 60 percent of total forest land area. Of the forest land, 64 percent consists of large diameter trees, 27 percent contains medium diameter trees, and 9 percent contains small diameter trees. The volume of growing stock on timberland has continued to increase since the 1980s and currently totals nearly 19 billion cubic feet. The average annual net growth of growing stock on timberland from 2007 to 2012 is approximately 380 million cubic feet per year. Important species compositional changes include increases in the number of red maple trees and American beech saplings which coincide with decreases in the number of eastern white pine and sugar maple trees as well as eastern white pine and northern red oak saplings. Additional information is presented on forest attributes, land use change, carbon, timber products, species composition, regeneration, and forest health. Detailed information on forest inventory methods and data quality estimates is included on the DVD accompanying this report. Tables of population estimates and a glossary are also included.


  8.  RP-NRS-28.  Response of smooth rock skullcap (Scutellaria saxatilis), a globally rare plant, to fire.  Huebner, Cynthia D.; Karriker, Kent.  16 p.  

Scutellaria saxatilis Riddell (smooth rock skullcap or rock skullcap, hereafter abbreviated as SRS), a herbaceous perennial in the mint family, is a globally rare (G3) plant. In West Virginia, SRS is categorized as an S2 species (imperiled and at high risk of extinction due to a very restricted range, very few [<20] documented occurrences, or steep declines). The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of fire on SRS in West Virginia. Two forested sites (70+ years of age) within the Monongahela National Forest with no evident disturbance and with SRS populations of >1,000 individuals were selected, one in a burn area and the other in a nonburn area. Sites were sampled in early September of 2008 and 2009 (pre-burn) and 2010 and 2011 (postburn). The prescribed burn occurred in April and early May of 2010. A generalized linear mixed model with repeated measures and a spatial covariance matrix was used to determine the effects of the burn on SRS cover and associated variables including total vegetation cover, species diversity, bare ground, and litter cover. Bare ground cover increased and litter cover decreased in 2010 in response to the fire. Control and pre-burn sites did not differ significantly in terms of SRS cover over the 4-year period. The cover of SRS increased significantly in 2010 (first year postburn) compared to both pre-burn years, but decreased to pre-burn levels by 2011. Total cover of other understory vegetation increased significantly in 2010 and continued at 2010 levels in 2011 at the burn site. Thus, SRS has a temporary positive response to prescribed fire, but an increase in other ground vegetation may prevent a sustained positive response.


  9.  RMAP-NRS-8.  The 2010 wildland-urban interface of the conterminous United States.  Martinuzzi, Sebastian; Stewart, Susan I.; Helmers, David P.; Mockrin, Miranda H.; Hammer, Roger B.; Radeloff, Volker C.  16 p.  

The wildland-urban interface (WUI) is the area where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland, and it is where wildfires have their greatest impacts on people. Hence the WUI is important for wildfire management. This document and associated maps summarize the extent of the WUI in the conterminous United States in 2010. The maps and summary statistics are designed to inform both national policy and local land management concerning the WUI. The data presented here summarize the 2010 WUI at a national scale and for each of the 48 conterminous States. All products of this assessment—including maps, statistics, and the WUI GIS dataset—are available at

A pdf version of the map included with this publication is available for download (2 MB PDF)

A high resolution version of this publication is available for download (100 MB PDF)


Copies still available

  10.  GTR-NRS-P-102.  Proceedings of the 4th fire in eastern oak forests conference.  Dey, Daniel C.; Stambaugh, Michael C.; Clark, Stacy L.; Schweitzer, Callie J., eds.  292 p.  

Contains 14 full-length papers and 40 abstracts of posters that were presented at the 4th Fire in Eastern Oak Forests conference, held in Springfield, MO, May 17-19, 2011. The conference was attended by over 250 people from 65 different organizations and entities, representing 22 states and 1 Canadian province.


  11.  GTR-NRS-111.  Social science at the wildland-urban interface: a compendium of research results to create fire-adapted communities.  Toman, Eric; Stidham, Melanie; McCaffrey, Sarah; Shindler, Bruce.  75 p.  

Over the past decade, a growing body of research has been conducted on the human dimensions of wildland fire. As this research has matured, there has been a recognition of the need to examine the full body of resulting literature to synthesize disparate findings and identify lessons learned across studies. These lessons can then be applied to fostering fire-adapted communities—those communities that understand their risk and have taken action to mitigate their vulnerability and increase resilience. This compendium of social science research findings related to fire-adapted communities has resulted from a project funded by the Joint Fire Science Program. As part of these efforts, the research team reviewed more than 200 publications of research results. Then the team convened a workshop with 16 scientists who evaluated collective findings and discussed their application to support fire management activities. Within this document they describe their approach to completing this review and present key findings from the literature. The discussion is organized around five major topical areas: 1) homeowner/community mitigation, 2) public acceptance of fuels treatments on public lands, 3) homeowner actions during a fire, 4) postfire response and recovery, and 5) wildland fire policy and planning. The compendium concludes with a presentation of management implications and a bibliography of all material in this review.


Available Online Only

12.  GTR-NRS-153.  Available Online Only.
Supporting 13 years of global change research: the history, technology, and methods of the Aspen FACE Experiment.  Kubiske, Mark E.; Foss, Anita R.; Burton, Andrew J.; Jones, Wendy S.; Lewin, Keith F.; Nagy, John; Pregitzer, Kurt S.; Zak, Donald R.; Karnosky, David F.  75 p..

This publication is an additional source of metadata for data stored and publicly available in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Research Data Archive. Here, we document the development, design, management, and operation of the experiment. In 1998, a team of scientists from the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Energy (DOE), Michigan Technological University, and several other institutions initiated the Aspen Free Air CO2 and Ozone Enrichment (Aspen FACE) Experiment. Using technology developed at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), the experiment fumigated model aspen forest ecosystems with elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), or ozone, or both in a full factorial design with three replicates. The Aspen FACE Experiment was one of several free-air CO2 enrichment experiments at the time, but was the only one that incorporated ozone treatment into the BNL design. The experiment operated for 13 years, involved more than 70 researchers from 9 countries, has produced 126 scientific publications to date, held numerous tours and scientific conferences, and was the subject of many reports in the public news media. Findings from the experiment contributed to the supplement to the U.S. President's 2002 budget, Our Changing Planet; and to the 2006 rewriting of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ozone pollution criteria document. Data and archived plant samples from the experiment continue to be used in many ways, including meta analyses, global change modeling, and studies examining tree characteristics affected by the treatment gases.


Resource Update

The following publications provide an overview of forest resource attributes for the respective State based on an annual inventory conducted by the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program at the Northern Research Station of the U.S. Forest Service. These are available only online.



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Last Modified: April 23, 2015