Cerulean warblers spend part of the year in the Appalachian Mountains of North America as well as the Andes Mountains of South America. Photo by DJ McNeil.
What do biologists look for in a healthy forest? A diversity in the ages and composition of trees and occasional breaks in canopy to allow sunlight to reach understory plants. Healthy forests, just like healthy human populations, are sustained by a diversity of ages. Each group has a role to play in maintaining the whole community over the long term.
But healthy, diverse forests are on the decline across the eastern United States. A lack of natural and human-induced disturbances because of fire suppression and certain timber harvest methods have led the forested landscape to become largely homogenous. Read more »
Lesser prairie-chickens benefit from lands where a rancher is using prescribed grazing, according to a new report. Photo courtesy of Nick Richter.
Habitat conservation practices make a difference for lesser prairie-chickens. That’s the finding of a recent scientific study – the first part of a multi-year study – described in a new report from the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI).
LPCI, led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), works with partner organizations and ranchers to improve habitat and address threats to the bird. Since 2010, more than 1 million acres of habitat have been restored on working lands. Read more »
The gopher tortoise is the keystone species of longleaf pine forests as its burrows provide shelter to 360 other species.
The gopher tortoise earned its name for good reason – because it likes to dig and spends much of its time underground. The gopher tortoise, the Southeast’s only land-dwelling tortoise, burrows in the sandy soils below longleaf pine forests where it can escape heat and danger.
Its burrows are popular. About 360 other species, from rattlesnakes to rabbits, toads, and northern bobwhite take advantage of the underground real estate provided by the tortoise, what biologists call a keystone species because other species depend on it. Read more »
Natalie and Donald Love use sustainable forestry practices to improve early successional habitat on their land in central Pennsylvania.
Natalie Love wakes up each morning to the sounds of songbirds. “What a good way to start your day,” said Love, who lives in the Appalachian Mountains in central Pennsylvania.
Natalie and her husband Donald are working to improve the healthy, structurally diverse forests that provide many benefits for wildlife. By doing so, they’ve also improved their access to their forests, fought off undesired invasive plants and improved the aesthetics of their forest land.
“Sustainable forestry is benefitting our personal lives as well as wildlife,” she said. “We want to build an inviting place for the golden-winged warbler.” Read more »
The golden-winged warbler has suffered a 66 percent population decline since the 1960s.
“Hear that?” Dr. Jeff Larkin bent his ears to a nearby cluster of trees amid a sea of briars.
“There’s one in there,” Larkin said excitedly. We were on the trail of a golden-winged warbler, a black-bibbed songbird, which winters in South and Central America and spends its springs and summers here in Appalachia where it breeds, nests and raises its young. Read more »
Learn more about prairie chicken conservation efforts by downloading this new report, Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative: Conservation across the Range. Click to download the report.
Cattle and lesser prairie-chickens both need healthy rangeland to thrive. Through voluntary conservation efforts, farmers and ranchers in the southern Great Plains can restore habitat for this iconic bird while strengthening working lands.
The Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative (LPCI), a partnership led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), works to enhance lesser prairie-chicken habitat one ranch at a time. A number of the initiative’s successes are highlighted in a new report called the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative: Conservation across the Range. Read more »