US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Research Soil Scientist Mary Beth Adams sampling soil.

Mary Beth Adams

Research Soil Scientist, Emeritus
180 Canfield Street
West Virginia
United States

Phone: 304-285-1520
Contact Mary Beth Adams

Current Research

  • Much of my current research deals with nutrient cycling in forest ecosystems as affected by different management and disturbance regimes. I conduct long-term experiments and particularly enjoy working collaboratively particularly in cross-site studies, with other scientists in the Forest Service, and scientists at universities and other agencies.
  • I work to understand how water and nutrients move through forests to help land managers get manage these precious resources.
  • I am an investigator on the Fernow Watershed Acidification Study, which is using ammonium sulfate fertilizer to look at acidification of an entire forested watershed; This long term experiment, in its 25th year, is a National Science Foundation LTREB (long-Term Research in Environmental Biology) site and has fostered many graduate and undergraduate research projects.
  • I am also evaluating the role of soil nutrients in sustaining the long-term productivity and diversity of Appalachian hardwood forests. This latter study is affiliated with the international Long Term Soil Productivity Study.
  • I am a strong supporter of Experimental Forests and Ranges, and spent a significant amount of time in managing the Fernow Experimental Forest, as well as representing the NRS on the Experimental Forests and Ranges chartered working group, of which I was a founding member.

Research Interests

  • I conduct long-term experiments and particularly enjoy working collaboratively particularly in cross-site studies, with other scientists in the Forest Service, and scientists at universities and other agencies.
  • I am interested in developing management recommendations for ecosystem restoration and/or rehabilitation. The high elevation red spruce ecosystem in the Appalachians is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the U.S.; I started my research career with the Forest Service in red spruce work, and continue to particpate in research projects in this endangered ecosystem.
  • The effects of air pollutants on forest resources is a continuing research area, including evaluation of alternatives/opportunities for restoration.
  • I am also interested in evaluating the effects of energy development on natural resources

Why This Research is Important

Long-term research is a hallmark of Forest Service research. It is important for us to understand that the trends we are observing are due to various management treatments or other causal factors, and not just due to annual variability in rainfall and temperature. My research will help us better manage our forests sustainably for many years


  • North Carolina State University, Ph.D. Soil Science and Forestry 1986
  • Purdue University, M.S. Forestry 1982
  • Forestry Purdue University, B.S. Forestry 1980

Professional Organizations

  • Soil Science Society of America
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF)
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Association for Women in Science
  • West Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientists

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


A Tale of Nitrogen Retention From Two Watersheds

Because elevated nitrogen loading can impair terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, understanding the origins, retention, and export of nitrogen fr ...


Disease-resistant American Elms are Suitable for Mine-land Reforestation

Almost 1 million acres of reclaimed mine land in the Appalachians are no longer forested. Restoring these lands to productive forests requires ...


Elevated Nitrogen Deposition Changes Herb Layer Diversity

Adding nitrogen to a forest stand decreased the diversity of the herb layer over time by increasing the amount of Rubus spp. (blackberry), which ...


Guidelines for Forest Biomass Utilization

Online resource offers environmentally and economically sound biomass utilization in the Appalachian Mountains


New Methods, Old Studies Reveal Source of Carbon in Lakes and Streams

Over recent decades, dissolved organic carbon concentrations (DOC) in lakes and streams have increased through the northern hemisphere, leading ...


Ozone and Climate Change Interact to Affect Streamflow

Climate change is affecting the Nation's forests, but not in isolation. Tropospheric ozone has long been known to affect the health of individua ...


Re-establishing pollinator habitat on mined lands using the forestry reclamation approach

Many pollinator species are threatened worldwide for many reasons, including habitat loss. In Appalachia, native forests serve as critical polli ...


Writing Appalachian Ecology: Essays and Outreach

In the summer of 2012 and 2013, students from West Virginia University's English Department, along with their instructors, participated in an un ...


“Smart Forests” Digital Environmental Sensors and Telecommunications Take Research to New Levels

Scientific breakthroughs of the 21st century will be powered by tools that help researchers collect and manipulate massive datasets, visualize t ...


Last updated on : 08/26/2021