USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Research Topics

[Photo]: Boy and girl digging a hole to plant a tree. The Pacific Southwest Research Station has served for more than 75 years on the leading edge of natural resource research, technology development, and applications (RD&A). During this period, demands for RD&A products, credible science assessments of natural resource issues, and scientific perspective on policy debates have grown tremendously. The number of people we serve and who use our products has grown and diversified, especially during the last decade of the 20th century. Trends indicate further growth and diversification in our customers and customers' needs to shape how we change and grow in the 21st century. Through a strong and credible research program, from the most basic to the most applied, we will pursue our goal: to bring good science to life in the natural resources arena.

[Photo]: Deer Air quality research addresses air pollution and climate change impacts on forest ecosystems on local, state, national, and international levels. The research is part of the Strategic Plan developed by the Pacific Southwest Research Station for issues related to population and urbanization pressures in the urban/wildland interface. The projected population increase from 30 to 48 million people in California from 1990 to 2020, with increased densities closer to forest boundaries, will seriously challenge projected abatement technologies and threaten even larger areas of forest with pollution impacts.

Biological control, or "biocontrol," is a safe and effective management approach used around the world that involves the introduction of a plant-feeding insect or disease to control the growth or spread of an invasive plant.

Climate Change, Mitigation, and Adaptation Science. Urgent societal issues that stem from global warming create a growing demand for climate- and climate-releated science information. The PSW program focuses on four research and applications themes: Understanding climate-variability and climate change, analyzing the responses of ecosystems to climate variability, assessing carbon sequestration options and carbon life-cycles, and developing new methods for adaptation and mitigation strategies in the face of changing climates.

[Photo]: Flower Ecosystem Processes. Nowhere is the competition for land use higher or more controversial than in the Pacific Southwest and Pacific Islands regions. Public awareness of environmental issues is higher here than in any other region of the United States, and per capita consumption of forest products is the highest in the world. Natural ecosystems and human populations are more diverse here than anywhere else in the world.

Fire Science research examines wildfire monitoring and prediction, global fire impacts, Forecasting Fire Weather, Managing Fire and Fuels, Fire Effects and watershed Response.

Insect and Disease. One aspect of research in this area is to investigate the ecological roles and impacts of insects in Western forests and apply their understanding of insect behavior to reduce negative effects (or enhance beneficial influences), through insect- or forest-management strategies. Primary emphasis is on use of natural, insect-produced compounds to manipulate pine bark beetles, and on understanding the roles and mechanisms of insects in decomposing and recycling organic material in the forest.

Invasive Species - PSW Research Station's invasive species research strategy aims proactively to identify non-native and native organisms that pose a threat to California and Pacific island ecosystems through potential introductions. Methods are applied to assess risks, determine likely pathways for introduction, and describe ways through which introductions may be blocked. Important elements include development and delivery of tools for detection, accurate and rapid identification, and early response, and for mitigation and rehabilitation should establishment occur. Terrestrial and aquatic plants, pathogens, invertebrates, and vertebrates are addressed, but greatest emphasis is currently given to plants in Hawaii and forest pathogens in California.

Recreation. The Nation's increasingly diverse and growing urban population has resulted in a rise in resource management and protection problems. This growth manifests itself in a broad array of issues, including forest visitors coming from ethnically and culturally diverse backgrounds, users having conflicting expectations of the purpose of wildlands, and people changing their concepts of the role of the Forest Service in resource management.

Urban Forestry. Station scientists conduct research that protects and improves the ecological functioning and human benefits of forests in urban and urbanizing regions including ways to use trees to reduce energy costs for urban dwellers. Results of this research will provide guides for maintaining forestry components in urbanizing ecosystems, locating urban trees to maximize energy savings, and estimating the benefits and costs of urban forests.

Water and Watersheds. In addition to providing irrigation and power, and serving domestic and industrial uses, water provides habitat for commercial and sport fishery and the basis for a multi-milliondollar recreation industry. As populations continue to grow,concerns for water quality increase, existing water supplies must be stretched, and effects on wetland ecosystems expand. Periodic droughts in California have had increasingly serious consequences. In the Pacific Islands, the shortage of drinking water and, impacts on coastal wetlands are issues of critical importance.

Wildlife and Fish. Forested habitats in the Pacific Northwest have a long history of exposure to disturbance. In the past, the disturbance factors were primarily restricted to natural phenomena such as fires, landslides, and volcanic activities. Currently, our forests are subject to these same disturbance effects but, in addition, are exposed to large scale habitat change due to timber harvest and associated activities. Considerable research has been conducted on the wildlife communities in forested habitats of the Pacific Northwest.

Last Modified: May 13, 2015 12:34:07 PM