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Featured Research

About NRS

As part of Forest Service Research and Development, we seek to understand all of the elements of forests and related landscapes. In the Northern Research Station, we work across a dynamic land with incredible social, biological, and physical diversity. Through this fabric of nature and of human needs and expectations run the recurring threads of disturbance and recovery following pest and disease outbreaks, extreme weather events, and fire. Our rural and urban experimental forests uniquely support long-term research that is not possible in other settings. We develop management strategies for plants, soil, air, water, and wildlife to meet the needs of people and communities.

2018

December - Deliver Benefits to the Public

Forests are beautiful, but they are also hard-working landscapes. People benefit from forests in many ways, including through abundant and clean water, cleaner air, and shade that reduces energy use in urban areas. USDA Forest Service scientists deliver research and tools that help land managers protect these resources for present and future generations of Americans. This month’s featured scientist, research, product and partnership stories show how Forest Service science contributes to forest sustainability, which in turn contributes to the U.S. economy and human health.

November Feature - Foster Resilient Ecosystems

In today’s forests, land managers are confronting many challenges. Invasive species, a changing climate, removal of fire from the landscape and the stresses of urban conditions all take a toll on forest health. This month we feature a scientist, research, a product and partnership devoted to helping foster resilient ecosystems

October - Exchange Expertise Globally

Sharing knowledge and expertise across borders is vital for advancing science and finding solutions to complex natural resource problems.  Northern Research Station scientists are working with colleagues internationally to stem the tide of an aggressive forest pest, mitigate the effects of invasive species, and better monitor forest conditions in developing countries.  In October, we introduce a scientist with a well-worn passport and offer stories on research, a research product and a partnership that illustrate the value of exchanging scientific expertise globally.

September - Connect People to the Outdoors

It is never too late to discover the outdoors. Increasingly, communities and natural resource organizations are offering programs and facilities that invite people to get outdoors and enjoy nature. From urban recreation trails, volunteer citizen scientist programs, and training that gives teachers hands-on research projects they can use to engage students, this month we feature an employee, partnership, research and product that showcase Northern Research Station contributions to activities aimed at connecting people to the outdoors.

August - Mitigate Wildfire Risk

In August, firefighters across the country are hard at work fighting wildfire. Research by Northern Research Station scientists aims to provide land managers with information and tools that improve our understanding of fire and fire effects and mitigate wildfire risks. Our work includes building and sharing a dataset that informs local planning for wildfire, demonstrating how social media (Twitter) can help predict air quality during wildfires, and developing reliable and affordable equipment for monitoring fire effects. This month, we feature a scientist, partnership, research and product all focused on mitigating wildfire risk.

July - Empower Conservation Leaders

With the large majority of U.S. citizens living in urban areas, children may not have early outdoor experiences that draw them to a career in natural resources or conservation. For college students, the diversity of options available for doing conservation work may be overwhelming. Mentors who can spark a second grader’s curiosity in the backyard ecosystem or discuss career goals with a college junior can be invaluable in nurturing tomorrow’s conservation leaders. This month, we feature four Forest Service employees who go the extra mile to connect with young people – from elementary school children to graduate students – and open the door to the wonder and importance of working to sustain our natural ecosystems. 

June - Provide Abundant, Clean Water

More than half of America’s freshwater flows from public and private forest land, and about 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originates on the national forests and grasslands. USDA Forest Service scientists are helping ensure that the Nation’s drinking water remains clean and abundant. This month’s scientist, partnership, research and product stories feature a scientist who explores how water (and the chemicals it carries) move through the landscape, how research is helping land managers improve the health of the Great Lakes, how the flow of personal care products affects aquatic ecosystems, and a resource that helps land managers adapt forests for changing habitat conditions.

May - Share Stewardship

Nature is intricately connected; as John Muir said so eloquently, “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” At its best, environmental stewardship is similarly hitched to everyone who cares about the land. In May, our web features offer snapshots that reflect connections among researchers, land managers, and citizen scientists. 

April - Build on "Caring for the Land and Serving People"

Northern Research Station scientists develop knowledge that is vital to restoring and sustaining rural and urban forests now and into the future. Our accomplishments include capturing the state of knowledge surrounding restoration of the iconic elm tree in a new publication, using local citizen knowledge of city landscapes to more equitably position green space across communities, maintaining a 60-year study that is answering the original question and a great deal more, and helping managers plan for the future by modeling the distribution of birds and trees in the Northeast in the face of a changing climate.  This month we feature a scientist, research, a product and partnership all focused on fulfilling our mission to care for the land and serve people

March - Share Scientific breakthroughs, New Technologies

Scientific breakthroughs come about in a variety of ways. Sometimes they are the result of a focused research effort on a specific issue. Other times an observation made in the course of research on a different question proves to be pivotal. Applying established technology in a new context sometimes results in a surprising discovery. This month we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership all involving scientific breakthroughs that contribute to the health and sustainability of the Nation’s natural resources.

February - Strengthen Ties to Communities

USDA Forest Service science serves people and the communities in which they live. In February, we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that demonstrate how community weaves through our work from New York City to the Central Hardwoods Region, including helping cities cope with an invasive insect and developing tools communities use to quantify some of the many benefits of trees.

January - Sustain our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

From partnerships that bring land managers and scientists together to solve problems, to models that guide long-term forest planning, to research that improves the effectiveness of efforts to restore oak savannahs and woodlands, Northern Research Station science makes a difference for people and the environment. This month , we feature a scientist, a product, research and a partnership that demonstrate how we contribute to sustaining the Nation’s forests and grasslands.

2017

December - Inspire the Next Generation of Conservation Leaders

Many Northern Research Station scientists can trace their interest in natural resources to experiences with nature. For some it occurs in childhood—spending time with family in the North Woods of Wisconsin or canoeing with the scout troop in the Northeast. For others it may result from interactions with hiking and camping enthusiasts in college. This month we feature four researchers who represent the next generation of Forest Service science and contribute new perspectives on science that will help enhance the health and sustainability of our nation’s forests today and into the future

November - Foster Adaptive, Resilient Ecosystems

The factors that can impair the health of forest ecosystems are daunting: drought, wildfire, human uses, invasive species, extreme weather events, and changing climatic conditions, to name a few. The USDA Forest Service uses the best available science to understand and improve the ability of forests and grasslands to remain healthy and resilient, despite these stresses and disturbances. This month, we feature a scientist, a product, research and a partnership all related to fostering resilient, adaptive ecosystems.

October - Be Connected

Our connections to nature can be described as profound, beautiful and terrible; sometimes all three at once. From anticipating potential insect invasions to exploring how migratory bird habitat can be enhanced, planting a garden for bees and people, and the many ways foraging feeds the human spirit, this month’s featured scientist, product, research and partnership all show different angles of our multifaceted connection to nature.

September - Strengthen Ties to the Community

Forest Service research is rooted in community. From connecting northwoods youth in Wisconsin to nature and science to inventorying urban trees to being an active partner in restoration of watersheds in West Virginia, our research serves people and the diverse environments in which they live. Increasingly, scientists are sharing their research in story maps that can tie the research to specific points on a map. This month we feature a scientist, research, a product and partnership related to strengthening community ties.

August - Share Scientific Breakthroughs, New Tools and Technologies

An unusual observation, a knotty problem or a desire to make the world a better place, combined with a scientist’s inherent curiosity always lead to questions, questions often lead to investigations and investigations sometimes lead to scientific breakthroughs. These breakthroughs take the form of innovative technologies, novel approaches to tackling old and new problems, and fresh ideas about increasing efficiencies and taking advantage of opportunities. This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that demonstrate how scientific breakthroughs, new tools and technologies, when shared with land managers and partners, can help solve contemporary natural resource issues.

July - Provide Abundant Clean Water

The availability of clean water is intimately linked to healthy forests. However, there are a host of factors impacting the health and sustainability of forests. Working to sustain forests ranging from tropical wetlands to northern forests requires understanding the process by which forests function to produce clean water, and the specific impacts of natural and human caused disturbances on tree growth. This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that demonstrate the role of forests in providing clean water as well as many other benefits.

June - Connect People to the Outdoors

We derive many benefits from forests, cleaner air and water chief among them, but some of what we gain from forests defies valuation. Time outdoors makes us breathe that cleaner air a bit more deeply. Whether we are hiking down a remote trail or sitting on a park bench, connecting with nature has the power to restore us. In June, we feature a scientist, a research project, a product and a partnership that center on connecting people and nature.

May - Mitigate Wildfire Risk

Periodic fire is instrumental in the health of some forest ecosystems. Deprived of fire, they are subject to invasion by native and nonnative plants and, over time, they become susceptible to larger, more intense wildfire.

Land managers use prescribed fire to restore fire-dependent ecosystems and reduce the possibility of wildfire. Northern Research Station scientists are exploring many aspects of prescribed fire, including the impacts of smoke, with the goal of developing tools that will ensure that land managers can achieve ecosystem health without affecting human health. This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that showcase how scientists and managers are working together to mitigate wildfire risks.

April - Conserve open space

We all know the old rhyme: April showers bring May flowers. In a season of renewal and regeneration, Forest Service scientists are developing research that demonstrates the value of open space from deep in the woods to the heart of a city.

This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product, and a partnership that speak to the value of open space, from urban trees lowering energy costs to data helping forest managers encourage trees and discourage ferns to better understanding exotic plants.

March - Deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the public

Forests deliver a wide array of economic, environmental and social benefits to people. Forest Service research develops knowledge and tools that aid in managing the Nation’s forests for diverse purposes and values.

This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that showcase the multifaceted benefits of forests. Some of these benefits are known and loved, for example the flavor of black walnuts, the character that hardwood floors give a home, and wildlife habitat. We are just beginning to understand others, such as the relationship between trees and green space and less crime.

February - Build on our Legacy of Caring for the Land and Serving People

For 112 years, the U.S. Forest Service has improved landscapes and lives through research. The Nation’s forests are the source of tremendous social, ecological, and economic benefits, and research is vital to maintaining these benefits for future generations of Americans. This month, we feature a scientist, research, facilities and a partnership that are building on the Forest Service’s legacy of caring for the land and serving people.

January - Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

What do American elm, wild turkeys, and eastern forest understories have in common? They have all been significantly impacted by disturbances and they are all dependent on science based management to restore and sustain them. This month we feature a scientist, a product, research and a partnership all representing efforts to sustain our Nation’s forests and grasslands.

2016

December - Next Generation

New challenges to forest health and new technology with which to deal with those challenges are part of the future of Forest Service science, but not the biggest part. New scientists are the heart of our future; their intellect, curiosity, and spirit will help ensure healthy and sustainable forests for succeeding generation of Americans. This month, we introduce four people who represent the next generation of science leaders

November - Call to Action

As the impacts of climate change and other disturbances on ecosystems become more evident, scientists, land managers, tribes and the public are rallying to gain a better understanding of these impacts and identify strategies for addressing them. Working collaboratively, developing climate change adaptation tools, conducting long-term experiments and intertwining western scientific knowledge with traditional ecological knowledge are all actions that Forest Service scientists are taking to help ensure that ecosystems are adapted to future conditions.  This month, we feature a scientist, a product, research and a partnership all heeding a call to action for the good of the nation’s natural ecosystems.  

October - Be Connected

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe," conservationist John Muir wrote in 1911. More than a hundred years of Forest Service research continues to affirm Muir’s observation: the interlacing of forests and wildlife and people is breathtakingly beautiful and profoundly complicated. In October, our stories include a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that illustrate a few of the ways that nature and people are connected.   

September - One Community

Trees inspire community, regardless of whether they grow in forests that span hundreds of acres or simply form a graceful green arch over city streets. From mapping natural resources stewardship in New York City to collaboration among scientists and managers in Pennsylvania to students pursuing science and nature in Philadelphia, this month’s featured scientist,  product, research and partnership all demonstrate the power of community.

August - Sound Science

Managing forests in the face of climate change, spread of invasive species, catastrophic wildfires, and destructive storms requires resource managers to have a wide array of tools in their toolbox, including a sound scientific basis for their decisions and actions.   Employing top notch scientists, using the most cutting-edge technologies—from Smart Forests to gene sequencing—and creating innovative ways to share information on forests with a broader audience, Forest Service Research and Development is stepping up in support of sustaining the Nation’s forests and grasslands on people’s behalf. This month we feature a scientist, a product, research, and a partnership all related to sound science.

July - ForestFlow

More than half of America’s freshwater flows from public and private forest land, and about 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originates on national forests and grasslands. This month, our web features describe an employee, research, a product and a partnership all pooling forces to enhance water quality for people, crayfish and everything in between.

June- Get Outdoors

The physical, mental, and emotional benefits of getting outdoors and experiencing nature are well documented.   Experiencing nature takes many forms—from participating in an urban stewardship project in New York City, to walking on a trail through a forest preserve in Chicago, to enhancing pollinator habitat as part of a high school science project.  The outdoors can be as close as your own backyard or as far away as a remote wilderness area and stepping into either one can make life better for anyone who ventures outside. This month we feature a scientist, a product, research and a partnership all related to the benefits of getting outdoors.

May - Wildfire Mitigation

At a time when wildfires are getting bigger and more intense and firefighting is getting more complex due to population growth in the wildland-urban interface, researchers are focusing attention on better understanding factors such as fire weather, wildfire behavior, smoke dispersion, and community preparedness for wildfire.  This month we feature a scientist, a product, research and a partnership that help us to live with fire by mitigating its impacts

April - Keep it Green

From forests to city parks, nature is doing so much more than giving us a beautiful view. For starters, forests and open space also give us clean water, clean air, and forest products that improve the function and feel of our homes. This month, we feature a scientist, a product, research and a partnership that illustrate ways in which Forest Service science is advancing conservation of open space.

March - The Future of Northern Forests

From Maine to Minnesota and from Missouri to Maryland, Northern forests cover 174 million acres of hard-working public and private forests. How these forests might change matters to all of us, whether we care about jobs, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, recreation, or just their sheer beauty. In the Northern Forest Futures Project, Northern Research Station scientists and partners explored the ramifications of different future scenarios and how the landscape may change over the next 50 years. This month, we feature a scientist, a product, research and a partnership that are part of the story of the future of Northern forests.

February - Our Roots

From the unfurling of leaves in the spring through the grand green canopy of summer to the blaze of autumn, we appreciate trees without pausing to consider the massive roots feeding all that beauty. Roots, whether they are tree roots or origins, just do not get enough glory. This month, we try to give roots their due in stories about a scientist, research, a product and a partnership.  

January - Back to Basics

January, a month when a wool blanket and a warm cup of cocoa can feel like nirvana, is a good time to reconnect with the basics. At its most basic, the goal of Northern Research Station science is to contribute to sustaining the Nation’s forests and grasslands. This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that reflect the science and service that are at the heart of everything we do

2015

December - The Next Generation

Everyone fortunate enough to have grown up with a strong connection to nature knows that landscapes as varied as forests, prairies, mountains and the sea share one common trait: they have the power to transform a child’s life. This month, we celebrate the next generation of Northern Research Station scientists by profiling six researchers whose connection to nature shaped their life, and whose work today is shaping the future of America’s wild and urban landscapes. 

November - Partnerships with Native American Tribes

This November marks the 25th anniversary of the designation of Native American Heritage Month.  The commemorative month provides the opportunity for all of us to learn more about Native American people and the diverse cultures they represent, and to acknowledge their contributions to stewardship of natural resources.  This month we feature an employee, research, a product and partnership all related to Forest Service partnerships with Native American Tribes.    

October - International Research Collaboration

Non-native forest pests have been with us since colonists arrived in the New World loaded with dreams, grit and perhaps the continent’s first non-native invasive insects. The Northeast’s diverse forests and the industrialization and proliferation of cargo imports are two key factors that have resulted in the presence of invasive forest insects in the Northeast longer and in greater numbers than anywhere else in the nation.

Controlling or even stopping a non-native species demands research on an international scale. This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that highlight international research at the Northern Research Station.

September - Strong Communities

Adversity comes to communities in many forms – wildfire, urban decay, pollution, flooding.  Nature can play an amazing role in helping communities and their residents heal from catastrophe. This month we feature a scientist, research, a product and partnership all related to how nature can help make communities healthier, stronger and more resilient.   

August - Innovation and Technology

New technology enhances Northern Research Station scientists’ ability to do research and deliver results but, at its heart, science is an exercise in innovation. The technology can astound us, but it is the ideas behind scientists’ use of technology that can change a landscape. August marks the 100th anniversary of an innovation that continues to influence the American landscape: establishment of a research and development branch within the USDA Forest Service. Across the nation, Forest Service science has contributed to the health and sustainability of forests and all of the species that depend on them – including us. This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that shine light on innovation and new technology at the Northern Research Station.

July - Clean Water

Cold water from the kitchen faucet on a hot summer day; the captivating sound of a babbling brook; an early morning spent standing in a pure mountain stream, trying to convince a fish that the fly on the end of your line is real–all of these depend on the availability of clean water.  But clean water cannot be taken for granted.  Vegetation management, road construction, agricultural practices, and urban storm water management are among the many factors that can significantly affect water quality.  This month we feature a hydrologist, research, a product and partnership related to clean water

June - Get Outdoors

From hilly trails that stretch our legs and lungs to the restorative power of nature, getting outdoors is good for us. For Northern Research Station scientists and staff, getting outdoors is also a profound scientific adventure. This month, we feature a forester, research, a product and a partnership that celebrate the joy and science of getting outdoors.

May - Ecosystem Services

“The tangible benefits derived from natural systems” is one of many ways to describe ecosystem services.   A variety of these services are evident –lakes and rivers provide drinking water, timber is vital to building and decorating our homes, we rely on medicines derived from plants.  Other ecosystem services are less obvious, such as pollination, erosion control, well-being derived from connecting with the natural world.  Some are just as vital but less visible and comprehensible, such as nutrient cycling and carbon sequestration. This month we feature a scientist, research, a product and partnership related to ecosystem services

April - Value of Open Space

“Open space” includes a lot of landscapes, from working forests to wilderness to community parks to islands. The value of open space is equally diverse; it provides us with hardwood floors and furniture, it gives us a place to just be still, it is essential to ecological health. This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that illustrate different aspects of the value of open space.

March - Urban Forests and Human Health

While our own efforts to be healthy sometimes falter (this winter has required a certain amount of comfort food, after all), trees are more steadfast. Research is revealing that trees contribute to human health in a variety of ways, including removing air pollution, which saves hundreds of lives and prevents acute respiratory symptoms for thousands of people every year. The benefits extend beyond physical health; natural resources are a mechanism for individual and collective recovery from disaster.

This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that illustrate how trees benefit human health.

February - Forest Economics

Within the discipline of forest economics, scientists study the tradeoffs and choices people make related to forests.  This includes what species of trees are harvested and how many,  whether the lumber is used domestically or exported, what the lumber is made into, how timber harvest impacts forests and local economies, and what measures are taken to stop the spread of non-native invasive species that damage and kill trees.  This month we feature a scientist, research, a product and partnership related to forest economics.

January - Great Lakes Forest Restoration

Bordering the United States and Canada, the five Great Lakes – Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario – constitute the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet, containing about 18 percent of the world’s surface fresh water by volume and providing an estimated 40 million people with drinking water. In the United States, forests cover nearly half of the Great Lakes basin’s land area. Forests are not only an iconic part of the region’s landscape, they are vital to its environmental and economic health. Forest Service science is delivering tools that land managers can use to make private and public forests – and ultimately the Great Lakes – healthier and more resilient.

This month we feature a scientist, research, a product, and a partnership related to forest restoration in the Great Lakes Region.

2014

December - Trees of the Season

December in the Northeast and Midwest can be stark. Autumn’s red, gold, and orange hues are long gone, replaced by shades of black, white and gray. It is at this time of year that we are particularly thankful for the muted green relief of firs, pines and spruce trees throughout the landscape.  We may not be the only civilization to appreciate the seasonal color: ancient peoples decorated their doors and windows with evergreen boughs in winter as a reminder that the sun and green plants would return. In the 1500s, the tradition of bringing a live Christmas tree into the home began in Germany.

This month we feature a scientist, research, a product, and a partnership all relating to the trees of the season

November - Fascinating Forest Fungi

Neither animal nor plant, fungi are literally in a Kingdom of their own, and it’s a big Kingdom. There are an estimated 1-6 million species of fungi, and only 400,000 have names.Their habitat stretches from forests to deserts and from Antarctica to human beings. Fungi can be big enough to grill and too small to see with the naked eye. Some are stunningly beautiful; others get names like “Dead Man’s Fingers” for a reason.

Fungi are critical to forests because they contribute to decay, reforestation and other processes. They are just as critical to people. Fungi are essential to the production of life-saving drugs, including penicillin, cholesterol-lowering statins and the immunosuppresant ciclosporins, which made organ transplants possible. They are also needed for the production of quality of life products like chocolate, beer and specialty cheeses, such as brie and gorgonzola.

This month, we feature a scientist, a product, a partnership and research that shine a light on the fascinating world of fungi.

October - International Forest Research

Continuing advances in communication technology make talking with someone across the globe much easier.  Improved international exchanges bring the foods, fashions, cultures, and ideas of other lands to our doorsteps.  Issues such as climate change and the damaging impacts of invasive species are affecting or have the potential to affect all nations.  Given this scenario, it makes sense for scientists to work together on addressing natural resource issues in an international forum.  This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product, and a partnership involving international forest research

September - Forest Inventory and Analysis

For close to eight decades, the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis program has conducted a census of America’s forests. From the species, size, and health of trees to growth, mortality, and removals by harvest, the Northern Research Station’s FIA program knows the region’s trees.
Inventory and analysis tools and techniques have evolved, and so have the questions that FIA data is helping answer. For example, how much carbon forests store and where it’s stored are critical factors in forest management today. The Station’s FIA program is developing methods of estimating forest carbon, and FIA is also helping other nations design and implement forest inventories that will increase knowledge of how forests are storing carbon worldwide.
This month, we feature a scientist, research, a product and a partnership that demonstrate how FIA counts.

August - Forest Fragmentation

The Northern United States, encompassing the 20-state area from Maine to Minnesota and Missouri to Maryland, is the most densely forested area of the country with 42 percent of the land being forested.  This region is also the most densely populated region of the country.  Maybe not surprisingly, forest fragmentation – the conversion of forest land to other uses such as residential development and farming – is one of the most significant issues facing these forests.   Conversion of forests to other uses not only removes tree cover but also has a cascading effect on wildlife habitat and sustainability, water quality and quantity, and susceptibility to invasive plants and insects.  This month we feature a scientist, research, a product and partnership all related to forest fragmentation

July - Cool New Research Technologies

For some of us, something called a “floppy disk” was the first harbinger of a wave of technology that has dramatically changed our lives since the day we first played Pong. From manufacturing to our cars to the cell phone in our pocket, the technology has been fast and dazzling.

Technology has changed our lives, and it has changed forest science, too. Entire experimental forests can be “wired” to deliver meteorological and hydrological data in close to real time. Maps made by beaming light from airplane-mounted sensors create data that improve measuring and managing urban forests. Radiocarbon tells the story of how carbon journeys through an ecosystem. One tree’s cells can be used to make the entire species stronger.

This month, we feature a scientist, a product, a partnership and research that illustrate the extremely cool technology we’re using to make forests healthier, and in turn improve people’s lives.

June - Fresh New Faces

When June finally rolls around we look forward to a rebirth as long dormant flowers bloom, new leaves unfurl, and baby birds hatch.   For this June edition of the NRS homepage we feature the fresh faces of research by profiling a new scientist, hot-off-the-presses publications, a new and innovative summer recruitment tool, and partnerships that bring young scholars on board for the summer to work on urban forestry projects in southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware

May - Disturbances

In the lexicon of forestry, “disturbance” means something more serious than the word means in common usage. Disturbances are events that remove or kill trees and other plants, and they come in many forms. Tornados and straight-line winds are forest disturbances, as is timber harvest. Whether their effect is rapid or slow, invasive plants and insects are disturbances that alter entire ecosystems. Disease pathogens can virtually eliminate a tree species from the landscape (think Dutch elm disease and American chestnut blight).   

Scientists with the Northern Research Station study disturbance to better understand how they affect the landscape change over time. Our research aims to lessen the impact or mitigate impact to forests from disturbance. This month, we feature a scientist, research project, product and partnership with roots in the disturbance.

April - Bird Migration

It was a long, hard winter in the Northeast and Midwest, and one that continues to linger.  Spring could not come soon enough for most of us, but with each passing day, subtle hints of spring appear.  Some of the most welcome signs are the sound and sight of songbirds returning from their overwintering grounds in the tropics.  These tiny birds have an amazing migration, traveling thousands of miles between overwintering and breeding habitats mostly at night, when they navigate by stars.  The Northern Research Station has a talented cadre of wildlife biologists devoted to understanding these animals and doing research that informs habitat conservation efforts.  This month we feature a scientist, research, a product and partnership all related to bird migration.  

March - People and Forests

People and forests have had a long, long relationship. Wherever there have been trees, they have fed our spirits and camp fires and housed our bodies. Today, we know that people were managing forests to meet diverse needs long before there was a written word with which to record it.

Time has not diminished our need for forests. Today research is building our knowledge of how closely trees are intertwined with tangible benefits like clean air and water, and just how enriched we are by the intangible benefits trees give us, like a sense of place and a whisper of nature in the heart of a city. This month, we feature an employee, research, a science product and a partnership illustrating our long and complicated relationship with forests.

February - Long-term Studies

Long-term studies are critical for understanding how forests function, change over time, and respond to events like forest fire or invasion by non-native insects.   Long-term research on experimental forests is a legacy of the Forest Service.  The 22 experimental forests in the Northern Research Station provide opportunities for testing new forest management techniques and serve as laboratories for addressing current and future questions.  This month we feature an employee, research, a science product and a partnership all involving long-term studies.    

January - Projecting the Future

In January, we turn the page – in increasing numbers we swipe that page – to a shining New Year. One of the joys of science is that past, present and future figure largely in our everyday lives: we mine historic data to better understand today, and the research we begin now aims to give us insight into a future that is always much closer than it seems.

Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, said: “The vast possibilities of our great future will become realities only if we make ourselves responsible for that future.”  This month, we feature research, a scientist, a product and a partnership that all do as Mr. Pinchot urged and make ourselves responsible for that future.

2013

December - Gifts from Trees

Not to be a Grinch, but when it comes to gifts, trees have it all over Old Saint Nick.

Unlike the right jolly old elf who visits our stockings once a year, trees bear gifts in every season. Wood products shelters us, give our homes and furnishings character, and employ us. Trees’ gifts are too subtle for wrapping paper (note another gift of trees): they give us shade on a blazing hot day and brilliant color on a grey November afternoon, they sequester carbon and clean the air and water of pollution, improving our health and literally saving lives.

The gifts of trees get even more basic: they root us in place, growing bigger and older but remaining dependably familiar landmarks in changing personal and geographic landscapes. Even trees lost to storms become much-needed symbols of resilience.

This month, we celebrate the gifts of trees by featuring a scientist, a research project, a publication, and a partnership that highlight the multitude of gifts we receive from trees. A chorus of “O Tannenbaum,” anyone?

October/November - Uniqueness of Northeastern Forests

The Northeastern United States is a region of contrasts.  It is one of the most densely populated areas of the country and also one of the most forested areas.  It is home to the bright lights on Broadway and the spectacular fall color displays in New England.  The port of entry for many goods from abroad, the Northeast is also the entry way for many invasive insects and plants.  The complexity of the region provides challenges and opportunities for natural resource managers.  This month we feature a scientist, research, a science product and a partnership all devoted to ensuring the health and sustainability of the unique Northeastern forests.  

September - Restoration

Restoration is a major focus area for the USDA Forest Service in managing its 193 million acres of forests and grasslands and in influencing management on hundreds of millions of acres of private and urban lands.  Restoration efforts seek to help repair ecosystems that have been damaged or degraded by factors such as invasive plants and insects, disease, extreme weather, fire exclusion and over exploitation.This month we feature a scientist, research, a science product and a partnership all related to restoration of forest ecosystems.

August - Discover the Forest

The “Discover the Forest” campaign, initiated in 2009 continues to deliver a strong message about the importance of spending time outdoors in nature.  People, especially in more urban areas, discover the forest in a variety of ways.  These include the more traditional outdoor recreation activities such as hiking and fishing, to walking through a butterfly garden at an urban nature center, to appreciating the landscape in an historic park, to finding solace in nature after a natural disaster such as Super Storm Sandy.  This month we feature a scientist, research, a science product, and a partnership all related to experiencing the outdoors

July - Experimental Forests

The Forest Service Experimental Forest and Range Network is a precious resource devoted to long-term research on ecosystem processes, silviculture and forest management options, wildlife habitat, and forest growth and development.  The network consists of 80 Experimental Forests and Ranges across the U.S.  The Northern Research Station is responsible for oversight of 22 Experimental Forests and 2 cooperating Experimental Forests. 

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study established in 1963 on the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire, in July 2013, learn more about our July feature, Experimental Forests.

June - Fire Research

Many natural ecosystems across the nation are dependent on fire to remain viable, but today most fires, by necessity, are quickly suppressed.  Over the years this has led to fuel buildups and more severe fires.  Increasing numbers of housing developments in the wildland urban interface have complicated matters even further.  Scientists at the Northern Research Station are attacking some thorny questions related to how we can live with fire for the benefit of ecosystems and society. Read more about our June feature, Fire Research.

May - Wildlife Partnerships

Wildlife, big and small, puts a face on the impacts disturbances, both natural and human caused can have on our native forest species.  Scientists at the Northern Research Station with the help of many partners are tackling some of the major challenges wildlife species in our region are facing. Read more about our May feature, Wildlife Partnerships

April - Trees and Arbor Day

At the Northern Research Station, every day is Arbor Day. Our scientists investigate every aspect of tree health to produce research that helps make water and air cleaner, ecosystems more resilient, forest industry more competitive and sustainable, and cities more livable. This month, we feature a scientist, research, a science product, and a partnership that are all rooted in trees.

Read more about out April feature, Trees and Arbor Day.

March- Forests and Water

Forested watersheds purify water, mitigate floods and droughts, help retain soil, and maintain diverse habitats. Forests are vital to the water humans depend on too: 48 percent of the water supply for the 20 states extending from Maine to Minnesota and from Missouri to Maryland originates on the forests covering 42 percent of the region’s land. In honor of International World Water Day on March 22, this month’s science topic highlights our work to increase knowledge that contributes to healthier forests and water.  

Read more about our March feature, Forests and Water

February - Climate Change and Forest Adaptation

The effects of a changing climate are not an eventuality, they’re here. Northern Research Station scientists are working on a wide range of research aimed at giving forest managers, policy makers, nongovernmental organizations, scientists, and homeowners tools they can use to make forests more resilient.

Read more about our February feature, Climate Change and Forest Adaptation

January - Emerald Ash Borer Control

From the time emerald ash borer was identified in Michigan in 2002, Northern Research Station scientists have been studying all angles of the insect, from its life cycle to guidelines for biological control to techniques for restoring forests devastated by EAB. This month, we highlight some of the scientists, research projects, and partnerships involved in combatting this non-native forest pest.

Read more about our January feature, Emerald Ash Borer Control