New Station Publications

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Northern Research Station

  1.  GTR-NRS-168.  Chicago Wilderness region urban forest vulnerability assessment and synthesis: a report from the Urban Forestry Climate Change Response Framework Chicago Wilderness pilot project.  Brandt, Leslie A.; Derby Lewis, Abigail; Scott, Lydia; Darling, Lindsay; Fahey, Robert T.; Iverson, Louis; Nowak, David J.; Bodine, Allison R.; Bell, Andrew; Still, Shannon; Butler, Patricia R.; Dierich, Andrea; Handler, Stephen D.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Matthews, Stephen N.; Miesbauer, Jason W.; Peters, Matthew; Prasad, Anantha; Shannon, P. Danielle; Stotz, Douglas; Swanston, Christopher W.  142p.  

The urban forest of the Chicago Wilderness region, a 7-million-acre area covering portions of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, will face direct and indirect impacts from a changing climate over the 21st century. This assessment evaluates the vulnerability of urban trees and natural and developed landscapes within the Chicago Wilderness region to a range of future climates. We synthesized and summarized information on the contemporary landscape, provided information on past climate trends, and illustrated a range of projected future climates. We used this information to inform models of habitat suitability for trees native to the area. Projected shifts in plant hardiness and heat zones were used to understand how nonnative species and cultivars may tolerate future conditions. We also assessed the adaptability of planted and naturally occurring trees to stressors that may not be accounted for in habitat suitability models such as drought, flooding, wind damage, and air pollution. The summary of the contemporary landscape identifies major stressors currently threatening the urban forest of the Chicago Wilderness region. Major current threats to the region’s urban forest include invasive species, pests and disease, land-use change, development, and fragmentation. Observed trends in climate over the historical record from 1901 through 2011 show a temperature increase of 1 °F in the Chicago Wilderness region. Precipitation increased as well, especially during the summer. Mean annual temperature is projected to increase by 2.3 to 8.2 °F by the end of the century, with temperature increases across all seasons. Projections for precipitation show an increase in winter and spring precipitation, and summer and fall precipitation projections vary by model. Species distribution modeling for native species suggests that suitable habitat may decrease for 11 primarily northern species and increase or become newly suitable for 40 species. An analysis of tree species vulnerability that combines model projections, shifts in hardiness and heat zones, and adaptive capacity showed that 15 percent of the trees currently present in the region have either moderate-high or high vulnerability to climate change, and many of those trees with low vulnerability are invasive species. We developed a process for self-assessment of urban forest vulnerability that was tested by urban forestry professionals from four municipalities, three park districts, and three forest preserve districts in the region. The professionals generally rated the impacts of climate change on the places they managed as moderately negative, mostly driven by the potential effects of extreme storms and heavy precipitation on trees in the area. The capacity of forests to adapt to climate change ranged widely based on economic, social, and organizational factors, as well as on the diversity of species and genotypes of trees in the area. These projected changes in climate and their associated impacts and vulnerabilities will have important implications for urban forest management, including the planting and maintenance of street and park trees, management of natural areas, and long-term planning. will have important implications for urban forest management, including the planting and maintenance of street and park trees, management of natural areas, and long-term planning.


  2.  RB-NRS-110.  Michigan forests 2014.  Pugh, Scott A.; Heym, Douglas C.; Butler, Brett J.; Haugen, David E.; Kurtz, Cassandra M.; McWilliams, William H.; Miles, Patrick D.; Morin, Randall S.; Nelson, Mark D.; Riemann, Rachel I.; Smith, James E.; Westfall, James A.; Woodall, Christopher W.  154p.  

The eighth inventory of Michigan's forests, completed in 2014, describes more than 20.3 million acres of forest land. The data in this report are based on visits to 4,289 forested plots from 2009 to 2014. Timberland accounts for 95 percent of this forest land, and 62 percent is privately owned. The sugar maple/beech/yellow birch forest type accounts for 19 percent of the State's forest land, followed by aspen (12 percent) and white oak/red oak/hickory (7 percent). Balsam fir, red maple, and sugar maple are the three most common species by number of trees. Growing-stock volume on timberland has continued to increase and now totals about 30.2 billion cubic feet (ft3). The associated net growth, harvest removals, and mortality totaled 674, 313, and 303 million ft3/year, respectively. In addition to information on forest attributes, this report includes data on forest health, land use change, family forest owners, timber-product outputs, and future forests. Detailed information on forest inventory methods, data quality estimates, and important resource statistics can be found online at


Copies still available

  3.  GTR-NRS-90.  Forests of the Northern United States.  Shifley, Stephen R.; Aguilar, Francisco X.; Song, Nianfu; Stewart, Susan I.; Nowak, David J.; Gormanson, Dale D.; Moser, W. Keith; Wormstead, Sherri; Greenfield, Eric J.  202p.  

Bounded by Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Minnesota, the 20 Northern States have a larger population and a higher proportion of forest cover than other comparably sized U.S. regions. Forest-associated issues across the North include insect and disease pests, invasive species, forest management capacity, management standards, biodiversity, forest fragmentation, water quality, water quantity, output of forest products, recreation, and environmental literacy - all related to sustainability at local, State, and regional scales. This report uses the Montréal Process to summarize current conditions and recent trends in seven categories - biodiversity; forest productive capacity; forest ecosystem health; soil and water resources; forest carbon and biomass; long-term socioeconomic benefits; and the legal, institutional, and economic framework for sustainable management - and adds an eighth category to reflect the importance of urban and community forests to the Northern States. Since 1953, population in the North increased by 40 percent, forest area by 28 percent, and timber volume by 140 percent. The increases in forest area appear to be leveling off as urban expansion subsumes about 1.5 million acres of forest land per decade. Seventy-four percent of forests are privately owned, yet one acre in six is in some category of protected status. Forests are aging; and although total mortality for the region has been relatively stable in recent years, emerald ash borer and other invasive species are now poised to kill billions of trees. Forests supply 48 percent of the region's water needs and employ 441,000 in its forest products sector. Participation in a wide range of nature-based recreation activities is increasing at 10 to 20 percent per decade. These and many other characteristics of northern forests summarized in this report become interrelated on the North's forest landscapes, sometimes in complex ways. The information in this report provides a basis for ongoing, detailed discussions about these large-scale interactions and how they affect the sustainability of northern forests.


  4.  GTR-NRS-151.  Future forests of the northern United States.  Shifley, Stephen R.; Moser, W. Keith.  388p.  

The U.S. North - the 20 states bounded by Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Minnesota - have a greater forest cover (42 percent of land area) and population density (194 people per square mile) than other large regions of the nation. Ecological, social, and economic changes anticipated over the next 50 years will profoundly affect future forest management needs and opportunities in the North. This report draws on data from numerous sources to analyze 13 scenarios that consider future forest change in response to assumptions about land-use change, economic change, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, forest growth, forest harvest, and other factors. Results are organized using the Montreal Process Criteria and Indicator framework.


  5.  GTR-NRS-159.  Analysis of long-term forest bird monitoring data from national forests of the western Great Lakes Region.  Niemi, Gerald J.; Howe, Robert W.; Sturtevant, Brian R.; Parker, Linda R.; Grinde, Alexis R.; Danz, Nicholas P.; Nelson, Mark D.; Zlonis, Edmund J.; Walton, Nicholas G.; Gnass Giese, Erin E.; Lietz, Sue M.  322p.  

Breeding bird communities in forests of the western Great Lakes region are among the most diverse in North America, but the forest environment in this region has changed dramatically during the past 150 years. To address concerns about loss of biodiversity due to ongoing forest harvesting and to better inform forest planning, researchers have systematically monitored forest birds in the region for more than two decades. This report summarizes forest bird data collected from 1995 through 2011 in four national forests of the western Great Lakes region (the Chequamegon and Nicolet in Wisconsin and the Chippewa and Superior in Minnesota). Of 187 bird species detected, 127 nest in forest or woodland habitats. Population trends were evaluated by national forest for 98 of the forest bird species, and across all 4 national forests for 49 species. Numbers of most species were stable or increased within and across the national forests during these 17 years. Habitat analyses are presented for 123 forest bird species and are discussed in the context of concurrent trends in climate, land cover, disturbance, and forest structure. Results suggest that different migratory guilds showed different responses to the regional warming during this period. Eight species that were in decline or otherwise of special concern were selected to demonstrate how knowledge gained from analysis of their populations, habitat, and life history could supplement current literature to inform regional conservation management. Ways to improve or optimize the bird monitoring methods are suggested. This report is the most comprehensive compilation to date of quantitative information on the population trends, habitat use, and community assemblages of forest breeding birds of this region.


  6.  RB-NRS-84.  Urban trees and forests of the Chicago region.  Nowak, David J.; Hoehn, Robert E. III; Bodine, Allison R.; Crane, Daniel E.; Dwyer, John F.; Bonnewell, Veta; Watson, Gary.  106p.  

An analysis of trees in the Chicago region of Illinois reveals that this area has about 157,142,000 trees with tree and shrub canopy that covers 21.0 percent of the region. The most common tree species are European buckthorn, green ash, boxelder, black cherry, and American elm. Trees in the Chicago region currently store about 16.9 million tons of carbon (61.9 million tons CO2) valued at $349 million. In addition, these trees remove about 677,000 tons of carbon per year (2.5 million tons CO2/year) ($14.0 million/year) and about 18,080 tons of air pollution per year ($137 million/year). Chicago's regional forest is estimated to reduce annual residential energy costs by $44.0 million/year. The compensatory value of the trees is estimated at $51.2 billion. Various invasive species, insects and diseases, and lack of adequate regeneration of certain species currently threaten to change the extent and composition of this forest. Information on the structure and functions of the regional forest can be used to inform forest management programs and to integrate forests into plans to improve environmental quality in the Chicago region. These findings can be used to improve and augment support for urban forest management programs and to integrate urban forests within plans to improve environmental quality in the Chicago region.


Available Online Only

7.  GTR-NC-190.  Biology and conservation of owls of the Northern Hemisphere: 2nd International symposium.  Duncan, James R.; Johnson, David H.; Nicholls, Thomas H.  1-632p.  

The proceeding contains 91 papers authored by 143 people from 13 countries covering biology, ecology, monitoring, habitat-use, status conservation, education, genetics, toxicology, diet, migration, mortality and related topics concerning owls of the Northern Hemisphere. Thirty-three owl species are discussed. Information presented will be useful in owl conservation, management, identifying research needs and defining conservation priorities.


8.  GTR-WO-93b.  Effects of drought on forests and rangelands in the United States: a comprehensive science synthesis.  Vose, James; Clark, J.S.; Luce, Charlie; Patel-Weynand, Toral.  289p.  

This assessment provides input to the reauthorized National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and the National Climate Assessment (NCA), and it establishes the scientific foundation needed to manage for drought resilience and adaptation. Focal areas include drought characterization; drought impacts on forest processes and disturbances such as insect outbreaks and wildfire; and consequences for forest and rangeland values. Drought can be a severe natural disaster with substantial social and economic consequences. Drought becomes most obvious when large-scale changes are observed; however, even moderate drought can have long-lasting impacts on the structure and function of forests and rangelands without these obvious large-scale changes. Large, stand-level impacts of drought are already underway in the West, but all U.S. forests are vulnerable to drought. Drought-associated forest disturbances are expected to increase with climatic change. Management actions can either mitigate or exacerbate the effects of drought. A first principal for increasing resilience and adaptation is to avoid management actions that exacerbate the effects of current or future drought. Options to mitigate drought include altering structural or functional components of vegetation, minimizing drought-mediated disturbance such as wildfire or insect outbreaks, and managing for reliable flow of water.


9.  GTR-NRS-166.  Statistics and quality assurance for the Northern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis Program, 2016.  Gormanson, Dale D.; Pugh, Scott A.; Barnett, Charles J.; Miles, Patrick D.; Morin, Randall S.; Sowers, Paul A.; Westfall, Jim.  23p.  

The U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program collects sample plot data on all forest ownerships across the United States. FIA's primary objective is to determine the extent, condition, volume, growth, and use of trees on the Nation's forest land through a comprehensive inventory and analysis of the Nation's forest resources. The FIA program strives for transparency by making the methods and results of the inventory and analysis available to the public. The standard for distributing FIA data is the FIADatabase (FIADB). FIADB data for individual states can be downloaded from the FIA DataMart at as Microsoft Access© databases, which can be used to generate estimates of forest area, number of trees, volume, biomass, growth, removals, and mortality. This report complements the Northern Research Station's FIA 5-year state reports beginning with the 2014 inventory and includes detailed information on forest inventory methods, important resource statistics, quality of estimates, and key references.


10.  GTR-P-NRS-167.  Proceedings of the 20th Central Hardwood Forest Conference.  Kabrick, John M.; Dey, Daniel C.; Knapp, Benjamin O.; Larsen, David R.; Shifley, Stephen R.; Stelzer, Henry E.  313p.  

Proceedings from the 2016 Central Hardwood Forest Conference in Columbia, MO. The published proceedings include 31 papers pertaining to research conducted on artificial and natural regeneration, biomass and carbon, forest dynamics, forest health, modeling and utilization, prescribed fire, soils and nutrients, and wind disturbance.
A correction to Table 2, on page 270, was made on May 18, 2017.


11.  RN-NRS-247.  An assessment of Japanese stiltgrass in northern U.S. forests.  Kurtz, Cassandra M.; Hansen, Mark H.  5p.  

This publication is part of a series of research notes that provides an overview of the presence of invasive plant species monitored on an extensive systematic network of plots measured by the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program of the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Research Station (NRS). Each research note features one of the invasive plants monitored on forested plots by NRS FIA in the 24 states of the Midwestern and Northeastern United States.


12.  RP-NRS-29.  How large is large? Identifying large corporate ownerships in FIA datasets.  Caputo, Jesse; Butler, Brett; Hartsell, Andy.  6p.  

Forest ownership size is a continuous variable, albeit one with a distinctly nonnormal distribution. Although large corporate forest ownerships are expected to differ in terms of behavior and objectives from smaller corporate ownerships, there is no clear and unambiguous means of defined these two ownership groups. We examined the distribution of the ownership size variable and determined that approximately 11 percent of ownerships are statistical outliers in terms of total acreage owned. These ownerships differ significantly in terms of behavior (harvesting and tree planting) and objectives (timber) from smaller and mediumsized ownerships. Consequently, we suggest defining "large" corporate forest ownerships as those owning more than 45,000 acres of land, equivalent to the minimum acreage owned by statistical outliers in the ownership data.


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.

RU-FS-108.  Forests of Wisconsin, 2016.  Kurtz, Cassandra M.  4p.  

RU-FS-110.  Forests of South Dakota, 2016.  Walters, Brian F.  4p.  

RU-FS-111.  Forests of Iowa, 2016.  Nelson, Mark D.; Feeley, Tivon E.; Kurtz, Cassandra M.  4p.  

RU-FS-112.  Forests of Illinois, 2016.  Crocker, Susan J.  4p.  

RU-FS-113.  Forests of Michigan, 2016.  Paulson, Charles; Pugh, Scott A.  4p.  

RU-FS-114.  Forests of Nebraska, 2016.  Meneguzzo, D.M.  5p.  

RU-FS-115.  Forests of Minnesota, 2016.  Miles, Patrick D.; Crocker, Susan J.; Walters, Brian F.; Kepler, Dennis.  4p.  

RU-FS-116.  Indiana timber industry, 2013.  Walters, Brian F.; Settle, Jeff; Piva, Ronald J.  5p.  

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