summer tanager in pine tree

Spotlight On...


Climate-Smart Grown in SC has an amazing team of researchers studying how climate-smart practices affect the environment. This month, we join Clemson doctoral student Bryce DelaCourt as he collects sample datasets to learn more about his Climate-Smart Grown in SC research.
yellow-throated warbler in a pine

Canaries in a Coalmine

Birds are some of the most charismatic and diverse organisms on earth. Across nearly every kind of habitat, bird populations are declining and reflect challenges and threats facing all living things. Because birds are easily observable and sensitive to changes in their habitats, they make an excellent indicator species – an organism that helps us measure environmental conditions.

red-cockaded woodpecker in a pine

State of Diversity

Over 127 species of landbirds nest in South Carolina during the spring and summer months. This includes important game species like the Northern bobwhite, Woodcock, and Wild turkey, as well as threatened and vulnerable species like the Red-cockaded woodpecker and Brown-headed nuthatch. Many of these birds call South Carolina’s pine forests home.

meadowlark singing

Pinelands are Fine Lands

Healthy pine forests do far more than produce valuable timber. These systems provide a host of ecosystem services including reducing surface temperatures, slowing storm runoff, lessening flood risks, and storing carbon. Pinelands also support hundreds of animal and plant species, many of which are only found in these ecosystems. Exploring how climate-smart forestry practices impact these organisms will help us to create a sustainable, profitable industry that also supports the diversity of life on earth.

Researcher in pine forest using binoculars

Getting Climate-Smart

Bryce DelaCourt is a first-year doctoral student in Clemson’s Wildlife and Fisheries Biology Program. Studying under Dr. Robert Baldwin, Bryce is researching how climate-smart pine management practices affect South Carolina’s bird species. Bryce will be spending his summer months surveying the forests of Climate-Smart Grown in SC participants to evaluate how birds are impacted by practices like forest thinning and the creation of patch habitats. Bryce will regularly visit Climate-Smart sites to conduct timed point counts where he looks and listens for birds, identifying the numbers and species present within a set area. Bryce is currently testing research methods in Clemson’s Experimental Forest.

Researcher conducting a point count in a pine forest

A Lasting Impact

In addition to studying bird diversity and habitat associations, Bryce is also working with South Carolina foresters to promote the adoption of climate-smart practices. Bryce and the Climate-Smart Grown in SC team hope that getting more people to adopt sustainable, climate-smart forestry practices will not only support a sustainable forestry industry, but also support a variety of life within our forestland. Bryce believes that this research and other Climate-Smart Grown in SC research projects, “will help show foresters not only with words, but with scientific data, that climate-smart practices are good for both a sustainable business and for the environment.”