Applied Ecology in Managed Forests

As human populations increase and the environment changes, we see profound impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem function, and the social use of forests. Increasing pressure on forest lands demonstrates the need to understand urban and rural forests and to develop effective management strategies to sustain them and the critical functions they perform.

Co-occurring stressors to forest ecosystems include fragmentation, the establishment and spread of invasive species, and past land use conversion, which occur at varying intensities across urban to rural gradients. Our lab group explores forest ecology and ecosystem functions, primarily in eastern U.S. temperate forest, in light of these stressors to develop understanding needed to help manage these forest lands to be sustainable and resilient in perpetuity. Our work in this area includes developing basic knowledge of how forests work and how it intersects with applied knowledge linked to forest management and assessment.

For example, the Ward et al. 2021 Journal of Ecology paper listed below shows just how influential ericoid mycorrhizal shrubs might be in shaping forest soil carbon and nitrogen cycling.  And the listed papers by Pregitzer et al. reveal the importance of working closely with land managers and practitioners to produce science that informs, improves and expands decision making.  See for example the resulting report informed by this work by clicking here that we co-produced with the Natural Areas Conservancy in New York City.

The goal of this research theme is to improve data-driven decision making to help sustain healthy forests in a changing world.

Relevant Publications