Departmental News

West Could Lose Ponderosa Pine Forests

The ponderosa pine forests that remain Rim Country’s biggest draw could fade away as a result of rising temperatures, deepening drought and spreading wildfires, according to a recent study published in Forest Ecology and Management. After a decade, the researchers found virtually no regeneration in the hotter, drier sites, said Erich Dodson, a researcher with the OSU Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. The study documented only modest regeneration in the higher, wetter sites.

Threshold for Thriving: How much forest management is too much for northern house wrens?

Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society graduate student Kristin Jones is spending six days a week in Oregon’s Coast Range conducting field research on the effects of chemicals on the incubating and brooding behavior of northern house wrens. Specifically, she is studying how herbicides affect vegetation and microclimate and, ultimately, care-giving by female wrens. Previous studies FES researcher Matthew Betts, who heads up the overarching IFM project of which Jones is a part, has turned up some preliminary hints.

Climate change threatens forest survival on drier, low-elevation sites

Predicted increases in temperature and drought in the coming century may make it more difficult for conifers such as ponderosa pine to regenerate after major forest fires on dry, low-elevation sites, in some cases leading to conversion of forests to grass or shrub lands, a report suggests.  "A decade after this fire, there was almost no tree regeneration at lower, drier sites," said Erich Dodson, a researcher with the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society.

Study to help managers identify regions with multiple Threat Potential

A recent study in the Journal of Forestry now offers managers a tool to help them identify regions exposed to multiple forest threats. The tool uses a novel 15-mile radius neighborhood analysis to highlight locations where threats are more concentrated relative to other areas, and identifies where multiple threats may intersect. It is a technique that may have never been used before to describe forest threats, according to the researchers. Lead author Jeff Kline and co-lead Becky Kerns are FES faculty.

Researchers Warn Of 'Megadrought'

While today's drought is on our minds, a look back to the great drought of 2000-2004 (and even into 2008 in parts of the West) provides a perspective to consider. And, if climate warming continues to wear away at our atmosphere, there may be "megadroughts" in our future. All this is the meat of a "Natural Geoscience" report co-authored by AmeriFlux former science director Beverly Law, an Oregon State University College of Forestry professor of global change biology and terrestrial systems.

Two Newest CoF Endowed Chairs Honored

The two newest CoF endowed chairs, FES professors Ron Reuter and Mark Needham, were honored at President Ray’s faculty excellence dinner on May 21. Congratulations Ron & Mark!

Finding hope where facts and values intersect

Meet Michael P. Nelson, Ruth H. Spaniol Chair of Renewable Resources and Lead Principal Investigator for the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest. When Michael talks about his work, he mentions carcasses and cadavers to a startling degree — startling because Nelson is not a physician or a veterinarian or even a biologist. He’s a philosopher.

Study: Grazing Helps Invasive Cheatgrass To Flourish

A new study out of Oregon State University suggests that overgrazing could be helping an invasive grass to flourish. That differs from previous studies that have found grazing can better manage that plant — cheatgrass — which threatens rangeland habitat. The invasive plant cheatgrass can increase the frequency and severity of rangeland fires. FES Department Head Paul Doescher is one of the study’s authors.

Insight: long-term nitrogen trends in pristine streams

Researchers at Oregon State University, US, have analysed over 500 years' worth of nitrate and ammonium data from a number of streams across the US. "Much of what we know about changes in stream water quality comes from studies of basins that have been affected by human activity," explained Alba Argerich, a postdoctoral research associate in Forest Ecosystems and Society and the study's lead author.

Trees looking a little haggard? Blame it on drought stress

Some of Oregon's trees aren't faring so well this spring, especially the Douglas first and other conifers in the northwestern part of the state.  "My best explanation is drought stress," said Brad Withrow-Robinson, a forester with the Oregon State University Extension. "We had a pretty hard end of summer last year - no rain until mid-October - then boom! It was winter."