Forest Landscape Ecology

Natural disturbances such as wind damage and fire shape forests across the U.S.—both historically and today. Our lab uses tools from landscape ecology to better understand how natural disturbances and forest management practices shape forest structure and function of forest systems at multiple scales. We work closely with partners to apply this knowledge toward improving management and large-scale restoration.

Hurricane Risk to Forest Resources

An enormous amount of ecological and economic resources are derived from forests of the U.S. In the southeast, hurricanes pose a risk to forest resources, yet quantifying that risk is complex because it is determined by factors at the scale of individual trees, stands, landscapes, and regions. Our lab is tackling this issue by combining experimental tree winching studies, stand-level wind modeling, and remote sensing to improve our understanding of hurricane risk in forests of the southeast. Read more about our work on hurricane risk.

Tornado damage as seen from aerial photography to study wind impacts

Improving Restoration Outcomes in Pine Forests

Changes in land use and interruption of historic fire regimes have led to the degradation of forests in many parts of the U.S. Large-scale restoration efforts are underway in both longleaf pine (southeastern U.S.) and ponderosa pine (western U.S.) systems to restore critical services these forests provide such as wildlife habitat, erosion prevention, and water quality. Ongoing work in the lab uses simulation and ecological process modeling to assess and prioritize investments in large-scale forest restoration. Read more about our work on restoration in pine forests.

 Simulation studies can inform landscape-scale management

Ecological Forestry (Silviculture of Fuels)

Frequent, low intensity fire is a hallmark of many ecosystems and maintains high understory and wildlife diversity. Although many conservation efforts focus on longleaf pine ecosystems, other pine systems such as slash and loblolly pine may be capable of supporting similarly high diversity if management practices emphasize mimicking components of open longleaf systems. Upcoming work of the lab focuses on understanding the extent to which lessons from longleaf pine fuel management may be applied to other pine forests to increase opportunities for restoration. Read more about our work in ecological forestry.

Lidar technology can help us easily study new aspects of forests

Forest Disturbance Interactions

Pine forests of the southeastern U.S. are famously shaped by frequent fire. Severe hurricanes also influence coastal forests leading to sudden changes in forest structure and composition. Our research examines interactions between wind damage and fire to better understand how they shape ecological processes in forests. How does wind damage effect forest fuels and recovery from fire? How do previous fires change forest susceptibility to wind? Read more about our work on disturbance interactions.

Wind damage can change the intensity of fire in a number of ways.

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