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Environmental Education

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Summer is the perfect time to get outdoors with family – Discover the Forest will help you find places to go and things to do, including a parent guide with tips for taking your family to the forest.

Featured Podcast


  • Kelly van Frankenhuyzen talks with U.S. Forest Service experts about recreation and the future of recreation on National Forests of the Forest Service Eastern Region.
  • Paul Strong, Forest Supervisor, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin
  • Steve Shifley, Research Forester, Northern Research Station, Columbia, Missouri
  • Mike Bowker, Research Social Scientist, Southern Research Station, Athens, Georgia

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[photo:] Kaykers on a lake on Hoosier NF in Indiana. Photo by Robert Arnold. [photo:] Eagle River/Florence Ranger District Trees for Tomorrow campus, Wisconsin. [photo:] Fall sunset on Leech Lake Chippewa National Forest. [photo:] Lake Dunmore and Fern Lake from Rattlesnake Cliffs in the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area, Vermont.


Forest research is a year-round endeavor, but summer is the prime time for installing new experiments and measuring change that can indicate success or disappointing failure in existing research plots. Forests are resplendent in every shade of green, but you’ll want to be sure to pack mosquito netting. This page brings together Station science that relates to the season, along with links to other seasonal resources within the USDA Forest Service.

Scientist's Perspectives on the Season

Herd Immunity for Trees

Photo of ash trees affected by EAB; photo credit: Kathleen Knight, USDA Forest Service.On the Allegheny National Forest in northwest Pennsylvania, researchers and foresters are exploring to what degree ash trees injected with insecticide can help neighboring ash trees ward off emerald ash borer.

The emerald ash borer, or EAB, is an aggressive invasive insect that has killed hundreds of millions of ash trees across much of the eastern United States and Canada and is now invading the Allegheny National Forest. Emerald ash borer larvae hatch and grow to maturity as they chew a winding path just under an ash tree’s bark; it is difficult to tell whether a tree is afflicted until it starts to die. Past and ongoing studies at the Allegheny National Forest have included understanding landscape patterns of ash health, optimizing genetic conservation strategies, and installation and initial data collection for an insecticide treatment experiment.

Insecticide has proven to be effective in protecting ash trees from EAB, but for a national forest with millions of ash trees, treating every ash tree is not a feasible approach to curbing the loss of trees to EAB. Instead, over 500 ash trees, arranged in groups across the forest, are protected with insecticide to preserve the genetic diversity of ash at the ANF. Northern Research Station scientists Kathleen Knight, Charlie Flower, and Alex Royo, and a team that includes the Allegheny National Forest, State and Private Forestry, and Washington & Jefferson College are exploring to what degree protecting some trees lends protection to other ash trees, a phenomena called “herd immunity.”

Counting Birds


{photo:] Rare Kirtlands WarblerStanding in the woods for a few minutes, it is easy to appreciate the difficulty researchers encounter in conducting reliable bird counts. While birds like the green heron can be counted on to stand quietly (extremely quietly) for most of an afternoon, songbirds are constantly flitting, making counting them by sight virtually impossible.

Stephen Matthews, an ecologist with the Northern Research Station’s lab in Delaware, Ohio, described a less frantic approach for educators attending Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Ohio’s Educators’ Week at Camp Oty’Okwa in Ohio’s Hocking State Park on a late spring day. Bird sampling is all about what you hear, he said, not what you see. Data collection methods include listening for a given time period, often 6 minutes of 10 minutes, and noting all of the birds you hear. Another approach is to measure a specific distance and slowly walk, recording every bird you hear. With each method, replicating the count is critical to developing an accurate picture of the bird species and abundance represented by the chorus of calls and songs.


Selected Research Stories

Selected Publications

The publications listed below do not represent every study related to summer; for a more complete list of NRS publications, please visit our Publications page at:

Janowiak, Maria K.; D'Amato, Anthony W.; Swanston, Christopher W.; Iverson, Louis; Thompson, Frank R., III; Dijak, William D.; Matthews, Stephen; Peters, Matthew P.; Prasad, Anantha; Fraser, Jacob S.; Brandt, Leslie A.; Butler-Leopold, Patricia; Handler, Stephen D.; Shannon, P. Danielle; Burbank, Diane; Campbell, John; Cogbill, Charles; Duveneck, Matthew J.; Emery, Marla R.; Fisichelli, Nicholas; Foster, Jane; Hushaw, Jennifer; Kenefic, Laura; Mahaffey, Amanda; Morelli, Toni Lyn; Reo, Nicholas J.; Schaberg, Paul G.; Simmons, K. Rogers;Weiskittel, Aaron; Wilmot, Sandy; Hollinger, David; Lane, Erin; Rustad, Lindsey; Templer, Pamela H. 2018. New England and northern New York forest ecosystem vulnerability assessment and synthesis: a report from the New England Climate Change Response Framework project. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-173. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 234 p.

Lerman, Susannah B.; Contosta, Alexandra R.; Milam, Joan; Bang, Christofer 2018. To mow or to mow less: Lawn mowing frequency affects bee abundance and diversity in suburban yards. Biological Conservation. 221: 160-174.

Limbu, Samita; Keena, Melody; Chen, Fang; Cook, Gericke; Nadel, Hannah; Hoover, Kelli 2017. Effects of temperature on development of Lymantria dispar asiatica and Lymantria dispar japonica (Lepidoptera: Erebidae). Environmental Entomology. 46(4): 1012-1023.

Bittner, Tonya D.; Hajek, Ann E.; Liebhold, Andrew M.; Thistle, Harold; Cullen, Dan 2017. Modification of a pollen trap design to capture airborne conidia of Entomophaga maimaiga and detection of conidia by quantitative PCR. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 83(17): e00724-17-. 11 p.

Elmes, Arthur; Rogan, John; Williams, Christopher; Ratick, Samuel; Nowak, David; Martin, Deborah. 2017. Effects of urban tree canopy loss on land surface temperature magnitude and timing. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. 128: 338-353.

Walker, Anthony P.; Carter, Kelsey R.; Gu, Lianhong; Hanson, Paul J.; Malhotra, Avni; Norby, Richard J.; Sebestyen, Stephen D.; Wullschleger, Stan D.; Weston, David J. 2017. Biophysical drivers of seasonal variability in Sphagnum gross primary production in a northern temperate bog. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences. 122: 1078-1097.

Last Modified: June 29, 2018