Kristofer Covey

Lecturer in Forest Dynamics; Lead Scientist, Ucross High Plains Stewardship; Director & Lead Instructor, Great Mountain Forest Land Use and Spatial Analysis Field Module

Research Overview

I believe good research should be novel, interesting, accessible, and useful.

I am interested in understanding the dynamic nature of forest ecosystems and their role in climate and life. I consider myself a Forest Biologist, Silviculturist and a Biogeochemist. Because I believe science can be translated into meaningful action, my primary goal is to integrate my research in silvicultural solutions for managing forests for multiple values.

My core research is focused on quantifying the flux of methane from living trees via a demonstrated but under-explored mechanism, fungal-mediated in situ methanogenesis, building a fundamental understanding of the role of stand development patterns in regulating these fluxes, and developing silvicultural solutions for managing forests for optimal climate benefit. To that end, I am leading a series of collaborative distributed experiments involving 25 research groups from Florida to Maine. This diverse, interdisciplinary, team includes silviculturists, microbiologists, statisticians, biogeochemists, and atmospheric scientists spanning career phases from undergraduate researchers to tenured faculty. In a separate, but related project, I am working to investigate fungal-mediated in situ methanogenesis in dead wood and woody debris. This work focuses not only on quantifying flux, but also on identifying the abiotic conditions and microbial community dynamics that foster methane production in wood.

More broadly, I am interested in using forest management to mitigate the potentially catastrophic impacts of global change. If our efforts to manage global forest resources are to be effective it is imperative that we achieve a better understanding of the dynamic nature forests, recognize the role of disturbance in shaping these dynamics, and incorporate this knowledge in sustainable systems for multiple-values management. To that end, I am an enthusiastic collaborator working with colleagues in two additional research focus areas:

I am actively pursuing studies of Forest disturbance and it’s role in regulating regeneration and stand development in mixed-species forests. I have recently finalized a study exploring regeneration, stand development and spatial pattern following selective logging in the Bhutan Himalaya. I also have active projects looking at the implications of ice storm damage on the development of mixed oak forests in Southern New England, and investigating site and post establishment treatment effects on the growth and survival of Pericopsis elata seedlings in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Spanning three continents, these studies aim to enhance our theoretical understanding of the role of disturbance in regeneration and stand development, and inform on-the-ground management.

I also pursue projects that integrate scientific understanding to inform global forest policy and use. I have published manuscripts, on the science of carbon in forest ecosystems, large-scale forest management, and the impact of logging on forest ecosystems. These papers target a diverse suite of constituencies from forest managers, to conservation biologists, and college educators in the developing world.