Fernow Experimental Forest

Research

[photo:] Forest stand on watershed 3 prior to a clearcut harvest.Research on the Fernow Experimental Forest has integrated the disciplines of silviculture and hydrology over the past 60 years with the goal of improving management of central Appalachian forests for a variety of uses while protecting and sustaining vegetation, water, soils, and wildlife.

Many of the silviculture and watershed studies begun in the early 1950s continue today, adding to our knowledge of how forest management affects species diversity, log quality, regrowth, soil erosion, streamflow quantity and quality, microclimate, soil moisture regimes, and wildlife diversity and abundance. Over time, natural and human-induced disturbance factors have been incorporated into the research program including acid deposition, non-native invasive species, and exclusion of fire.

Future threats to forest health in the central Appalachians include climate change, hemlock woolly adelgid, Japanese stiltgrass, and white-nose syndrome in bats. The Fernow staff is well-positioned to address current and future research needs in part because of the available long-term databases and that the mixed mesophytic forest has characteristics of both mixed-oak and northern hardwood forest types.