I study forest development patterns, forest health, and the protection and restoration of forest ecosystems. My research integrates the disciplines of stand dynamics, forest ecology, landscape ecology, entomology, pathology, invasive species biology, and silviculture. Recent studies focus on variables driving vegetation patterns at different spatial scales and in relationships between vegetation patterns and disturbances such as fire, insect outbreaks, and invasions of exotic species. In particular I study the role of disturbance agents, including insects and pathogens, in creating forest structures (snags, logs, etc.) that are important components of wildlife habitat; native and exotic disturbance agents’ effects on forest development; and management options for protecting, restoring, and sustaining landscapes at risk to catastrophic disturbances. Some of my ongoing and emerging research projects are described in the following paragraphs.
I developed a predictive model for locating historic fire refugia on the eastern slope of the Cascades Mountains. I am assessing insect and pathogen complexes and other disturbances operating in eastern slope late successional and old growth forests to better characterize their sustainability under different management scenarios. Federal, state, and private land managers have used my research results to develop landscape patterns that incorporate critical late successional and old forest habitat and are sustainable under the inherent disturbance regimes of the region. Another project in this region focuses on the effects of elk herbivory on forest development.
Along with several of my students and colleagues from Yale and other academic institutions I am describing and quantifying the effects of fire on vegetation patterns (and vice versa) at a variety of scales. Other projects include developing a risk assessment model to assist a utility company in managing trees adjacent to powerlines and assisting with development of a model that predicts changes in land use from a suite of biophysical and socio-economic variables. I am also interested in working toward enhancing appreciation, use, and data-archiving of long-term forestry research sites in North America and eventually other continents.
Future plans include developing a carbon footprint of management at one of our school forests.