CoF Research in the News

Wolves Teach Scientists Their Limitations

The lone wolf’s genes quickly became a new source of inbreeding. “His positive effect was powerful but very short-lived,” says Michael P. Nelson, an environmental philosopher in the College of Forestry and longtime collaborator with the Isle Royale study. A shorter-term view would have missed that genetic wave and its decline, he adds. “When you watch something for a very long time, sometimes the simplest observation can have a great deal of meaning,” Nelson says, “and it’s only because of that context.”

Science that Breaks Your Heart

It was late Friday afternoon at Dearborn Hall. Professors Michael Nelson and Kathleen Dean Moore stood before an audience packed with scientists. Mixed in were students, community members and a few stray poets, attentive and expectant for a presentation titled “Five Tools of Moral Reasoning for Climate Scientists” and sponsored by Oregon State’s Environmental Humanities Initiative.  Michael Nelson is lead principle investigator for the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest.

Roots of Relationship

Maria Garcia is embarking on an expedition. As a graduate student in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, she is exploring something that lurks in the soils of Central Oregon — a fuzzy microscopic fungus that colonizes tree roots and might predict the future of the forest. But why is the future of the forest at stake, and why dig underground when we are concerned about trees? The answer lies in the effects that organisms have on one another in a forest ecosystem.

Is It Time For Tall Wood?

At the 2013 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, a trippy entry called Big Wood made waves and earned an Honorable Mention. Forest scientists at Oregon State University, for example, have published numerous studies concluding that all currently known forms of commercial tree removal have worse carbon footprints than leaving the forests alone. However, those studies rest on assumptions such as an 80-year lifespan, typical of American buildings. Different assumptions—based on what can and must be done, rather than on business as usual in the profligate past century—will give very different results. Green points to Japanese pagodas 19 stories high that are still standing after 1400 years.

Study explores long-term water quality trends in near-pristine streams

For the first time, a study has compared water quality trends in forested streams across the country that are largely undisturbed by land use or land cover changes. "Much of what we know about changes in stream water quality comes from studies where basins have been impacted by human activity," said Alba Argerich, a postdoctoral research associate with the College of Forestry and the study's lead author. "Our work intentionally focused on relatively undisturbed streams, the very reference sites that serve as benchmarks for evaluating water quality trends."

Dr. Cristina Eisenberg Wants Wolves in Our Backyards

Most people would sound the alarm at the sight of wolves in their backyard while breathing a sigh of relief once they’ve left. For College of Forestry post-doc Cristina Eisenberg, it was the exact opposite. She wanted them back. “Wolves touch everything in an ecosystem. They are what keep the web of life healthy and thrumming with energy,’ explains Dr. Eisenberg during an email correspondence from her home in rural Montana, just south of the Canadian-American border. “Coexisting with them is far more feasible than some people think.”

Where Few Trees Have Gone Before

Tall trees block light that meadow grasses, shrubs and wildflowers need to survive. Once trees become established, the surrounding seed banks of native grasses tend to fade away. The meadows' “biodiversity value is much larger than the amount of area they occupy,” explains lead author Harold S. J. Zald, postdoctoral research associate at Oregon State University in the FES department, who hatched the idea for the study while backpacking in the Cascade Range. Full Story

Report: Warming bringing big changes to forests

Big changes are in store for the nation's forests as global warming increases wildfires and insect infestations, and generates more frequent floods and droughts, the U.S. Department of Agriculture warns in a report released Tuesday. Beverly Law, FES professor of global change forest science at Oregon State University, said in an email that her research in Oregon showed that despite more fire, the amount of carbon stored in forests continues to increase.

Plum Creek to fund water-quality research at Oregon State

Plum Creek, one of the nation’s largest private land owners with about 6.4 million acres in 19 states, has committed $500,000 to support an endowed research position in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University.

Cloud Forest Trees Drink From the Fog

The new study makes a "pretty conclusive case" that cloud forest trees do indeed hydrate using the clouds, says forest ecologist Christopher Still of the College of Forestry, OSU, who was not involved with the study. "There's always been this notion that this [ecosystem] is tied to the clouds, but it's hard to really show that."