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Northern Research Station
11 Campus Blvd., Suite 200
Newtown Square, PA 19073
(610) 557-4017
(610) 557-4132 TTY/TDD

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Sustaining Forests of the Allegheny Plateau


The Northern Research Station has realigned our staff from 37 Research Work Units and Programs into 14 new Research Work Units.

RWU-4150 is now part of NRS-2, Sustaining Forests in a Changing Environment.

Our Mission

We conduct basic and applied forest ecosystem research to enhance understanding of Allegheny Plateau forests. Our scientists develop management guidelines and management unit indicators for forest ecosystems in Pennsylvania, the Allegheny Plateau, and adjacent regions. the primary focus is on sustaining values of biological diversity, economic and ecological productivity, forest health and vitality, and contributions to carbon cycles. Our research is conducted at the stand, stand aggregate, and landscape level.


The key to sustaining forests is successfully renewing all their elements after disturbance, across landscapes and through time. Our research is aimed at strengthening our understanding of the relationships among certain elements of forest communities in stands of different ages, species composition, and disturbance history. We are building on our databases and mechanistic understanding of woody and herbaceous plants, songbirds, small mammals, amphibians and forest carbon. We are striving to understand the factors that control regeneration and renewal of each of these communities, their response to disturbance, and the impacts of selected disturbances on forest carbon pools and sequestration rates.Our goal is to provide managers with tools that can be used to ensure diverse new forests, for a variety of management objectives.

Intermediate treatments, or nonstand-replacing disturbances, create predictable changes in forest conditions. Our goal is to strengthen our understanding of the effects of intermediate treatments on wood production, wildlife habitat, herbaceous plant communities, and carbon sequestration, and develop associated guidelines and indicators of sustainability. Historically, intermediate treatments in forested stands have been undertaken primarily for their contribution to wood -products objectives. We study the effects of these treatments on wood production, but as our understanding of the relationships between wildlife species and important habitat components increases, we recognize that intermediate treatments also promote specific kinds of wildlife habitat.

Our research on sugar maple decline on the Allegheny Plateau and across northeastern North America has focused attention on the distribution of nutrients across the landscape and its relation to glaciation, landscape position, and atmospheric deposition. It has also increased our appreciation of the differences in nutrient requirements among plant species, and how these requirements can increase or reduce the resilience of forests to stressors such as defoliation and drought. We plan to strengthen our understanding of the relationships among nutrients, landscapes, glacial history, Allegheny Plateau plant species, and forest health, and to develop guidelines to assist managers in integrating this understanding into management strategies. This work will continue to focus primarily on sugar maple, and include development of both maps and indicator plant associations to aid managers in sustaining Northern Hardwood forests. As resources permit, we will add other species to this work.

More Information

This site is under development as the Forest Service brings together the Northeastern and North Central Research Stations to form the Northern Research Station, serving the Northeast and Midwest. Check back often as we expand our site to reflect our combined commitment to supporting the natural resources and people of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States.

For more details about our research visit


Last Modified: 12/21/2007