Developing methods to mitigate impacts of oak decline in the Ozark National Forest

PARTNERS: USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station and Forest Health Protection

SUMMARY: Oak decline has become increasingly severe as numerous fully stocked and over-stocked oak forests in Interior Highlands of Arkansas approach physiologic maturity, and it is becoming of greater concern for the future of forests across the Ozark Highlands and the eastern United States. Even though oak decline and associated diseases and insect infestations have occurred in the past, the extent of these problems today is unprecedented because red oaks are now the most common tree species on poor-quality sites. The combination of forest age, species composition, and accumulated diseases and stresses has caused oak decline to change from an episodic problem to a chronic one that has greatly affected not just the oak forests themselves but also the animals and people who live in or near them.

Researchers are working in the Ozark-St. Francis National Forest to evaluate the influence of over 30 years of thinning on mortality during a major oak decline event. They will develop a set of field methods and management recommendations for forest managers to prioritize and treat areas prone to oak decline.

Oak decline research plotEFETAC'S ROLE: This project is supported by Eastern Threat Center funding.

STATUS: Ongoing

PROGRESS: Data collection in 122 research plots (pictured) is complete. Researchers are reviewing data and running field checks to validate data quality on every plot. Data analysis is scheduled to begin in fall of 2018.



  • Martin Spetich, Southern Research Station Research Forest Ecologist, or 501-623-1180 x. 105
  • James Smith, Forest Health Protection Entomologist (Retired)

Updated June 2018

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