COF News & Events

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 the College of Forestry 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."

Save the Wolves of Isle Royale National Park?

Michael Nelson, Ruth H. Spaniol Chair of Renewable Resources and Lead Principal Investigator for the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, co-wrote a recent NY Times opinion piece about the future of the wolves in Isle Royale National Park.  This park, located in Lake Superior, consists of 134,000 acres of boreal and hardwood forests where a life-or-death struggle between wolves and moose has been the subject of the world’s longest study of predators and their prey, now in its 55th year.

Good dog: Canine hits paydirt foraging for truffles

Beyond the techniques for foraging afield, scientists are getting involved in the hunt from their labs. "It's an exciting thing to participate in," said Dan Luoma, a world market on this food delicacy." Luoma is an Oregon State University professor of forest micology in FES. He performed a DNA test on the truffle Ilsa found "to verify at the molecular level that it is indeed the right species of truffle," Luoma said.

Thirsty Wood's Distress Call Heard in Lab

Like a person gasping for air when it's in short supply, living trees make noises when they are running out of water. Air bubbles form when a tree is trying to suck moisture out of dry ground during droughts. As leaves on a tree collect carbon dioxide, they open their pores, a process that leaves them vulnerable to water loss. Evaporation from the leaves pulls water up the trees in a state of tension. Douglas firs and pine trees can repair this damage as frequently as every hour, said Katherine McCulloh, a plant ecophysiologist at Oregon State University, Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society.

Seeking balance in Oregon's timber country

FES professor Norm Johnson is featured in an April 29 story in High Country News. In 2010, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar tapped Franklin and his longtime comrade Norm Johnson, an Oregon State University professor of forest policy, to design eight pilot timber-sale projects to demonstrate the administration’s “active management” policy, which tries to combine logging with forest restoration. Although the pilot projects seek a middle ground, they’ve revived old debates at the heart of the timber conflict, including the very meanings of terms like “old growth” and “clear-cut.”

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Private forests home to essential wildlife

Usually when we think of wildlife habitat we think of animals that make their homes in large forest ecosystems. We often don’t stop to appreciate that small, privately-owned forests close to urban areas comprise another source of essential habitat for Oregon wildlife. A “Ties to the Land” succession planning education program for family forest landowners is available through Oregon State University that helps prepare family forest owners for intergenerational transfer of their properties to their adult children.

Atlas of Douglas-fir genes provide new opportunities for breeding, forest health

Researchers at Oregon State University, University of Georgia, University of Minnesota, and the US Forest Service just announced a draft atlas of genes used by Douglas-fir, a conifer tree of high economic importance world-wide. This atlas of genes – called a “transcriptome” – includes 25,000 gene sequences, and it identifies nearly 280,000 variants within these genes. The lead author of the paper, FES professor Glenn Howe, says “our main goal was to develop an atlas of genes that Douglas-fir uses in day-to-day growth, as well as under stress conditions."

GMOs: Why so controversial?

“There’s no evidence that it’s harmful,” said Steven Strauss, a biotechnology professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. His topic was genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in foods. Speaking at the Columbia Forum Thursday, Strauss described a research world that has significant impact on the Americas, but virtually none in Europe or Africa.