B.S. University of Connecticut
M.F. Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
My broad research interest is plant diversity and composition, in particular as it relates to human land use and disturbance. My venue is the forest understory of southern New England. In temperate forest systems the majority of the vascular plant diversity is found in the understory. The composition of this understory has implications for both ecological function and forest management; therefore a greater understanding of this part of the system is necessary for ecosystem management.
I explore the response of forest understory plant communities to different levels of anthropogenic disturbance. I am interested in how both acute (e.g. forest harvesting, site preparation) and chronic (e.g. climate change, nutrient dynamics, & biological invasions) anthropogenic disturbances interact to affect understory plant communities. Beyond its research value, I am mindful of how data in this area can be effectively applied to on-the-ground conservation actions. I address this by incorporating life-history characteristics and evolutionary relationships into my analyses to identify trends in species response to disturbance, which can help inform conservation priorities for forest understory communities. My research is based at Yale Myers forest a 3213 ha second growth forest in northeast Connecticut. The legacy of agriculture and intense human use in New England make it an ideal location to study understory dynamics in a severely human influenced site.
Over the past dozen years I have worked as a researcher, consultant, and forester. My background in forestry, agriculture, horticulture, and landscape design gives me a broad perspective on how human land use and manipulation of natural systems affects ecological function. These experiences impel my interest in studying ecology in human dominated systems, and guide my research objectives.
Publications and Book Chapters
Covey, K., Carroll, C.J., Duguid, M.C, Dorji, K., Dorji, T., Tashi, S., Wangdi, T., Ashton, M.S. In Press. Developmental dynamics following selective logging of an evergreen oak forest in the Eastern Himalaya, Bhutan: Structure, composition, and spatial pattern. Forest Ecology and Management.
Ashton, M.S., Duguid, M.C., Barrett, A.L., Kristofer Covey, K. In press. Yale School Forests, New England, United States of America, In: Forest Plans of North America, Eds: Siry, J., Bettinger, P., Merry, K., Grebner, D.L., Boston, K., and Cieszewski. Academic Press, New York.
Duguid, M.C., Ashton, M.S., 2013. A meta-analysis of the effect of forest management for timber on understory plant species diversity in temperate forests. Forest Ecology and Management 303, 81-90.
Duguid, M.C., Frey, B.R., Ellum, D.S., Kelty, M., Ashton, M.S., 2013. The influence of ground disturbance and gap position on understory plant diversity in upland forests of southern New England. Forest Ecology and Management 303, 148-159.
Frey, B.R., Campbell, R., Duguid, M.C., Ashton, M.S., 2013. A century of silvicultural research and demonstration in working forests. In: Camp, A.E., Irland, L.C., Carroll, C.J.W. (Eds.), Long-term Silvicultural & Ecological Studies: Results for Science and Management:. Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT, pp. 15-30.