University of Vermont

RSENR research - forest

Rubenstein School Research Emphasis in
Forest Ecosystem Health

Rubenstein School faculty, staff, and students study forest ecosystems and various impacts on their health. Studies include relationships of acid rain and nutrient depletion to decline in tree species' health and response to environmental stressors, ways to improve restoration of tree species and their habitats to northeastern forests, use of remote sensing for early detection of invasive insect and disease outbreaks, host tree genetics in plant-insect pest interactions, and potential biocontrol agents for invasive forest insects, among other topics. Researchers also study climate change impacts on forest ecosystems, carbon storage, and decomposition and how ecologically-based silvicultural systems, structure and function of old-growth and riparian forests, natural disturbance ecology, and restoration ecology impact forest biodiversity.

Faculty Research Program Descriptions

Carol Adair: Global climate change, ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry

Graduate student cores a tree.Carol's research focuses on how ecosystems respond to natural and human changes, and how this feedback creates further influence. Her current research includes modeling decomposition and its drivers at large scales, using modeling to predict the response of terrestrial ecosystems in the Lake Champlain Basin to climate change, determining if climate stress will impact decomposition and how this will effect carbon storage and loss, the impacts of climate change and soil freezing on carbon, water, and nutrients in forest watersheds, evaluating and implementing on-farm climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies, and stormwater retention strategies for urban areas. For more information, visit the Adair Lab website.

William Keeton: Forest ecology and dynamics; climate, forest carbon, and energy; sustainable forestry

Researchers at log landing of study siteBill's research broadly focuses on understanding the structure and function of forest ecosystems and how these ecosystems are impacted by natural and human-caused change. He uses this knowledge to inform sustainable management practices and conservation approaches both in the U.S. and internationally. His specific research interests include forest carbon management, climate change impacts on forest ecosystems, ecologically-based silvicultural systems, structure and function of old-growth and riparian forests, natural disturbance ecology, restoration ecology, forest biodiversity, and sustainable forest management policy and practice. For more information, visit Bill's website.

Jennifer Pontius: Forest health, remote sensing, GIS modeling

Map of forest declineJen uses remote sensing, mapping, and modeling to scale information about forest health and function from the plot to the landscape scale. These techniques allow researchers and land managers to identify and track impacts of new and existing forest stress agents. Specifically, her work includes detection and mapping of forest decline as a result of invasive species, climate change, and acid deposition. Current projects include an integrated forest ecosystem assessment to support sustainable management decisions in a changing climate; early detection and mapping of emerald ash borer; remote sensing to assess hemlock decline; a long term assessment of changing forest demographics, productivity, and biomass accumulation; and quantification of historical trends in Vermont's seasonal vegetation in response to climate change. Jen is the Principal Investigator of the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative, which integrates ecosystem monitoring efforts across organizational and disciplinary boundaries. To learn more, visit Jen's website.

Paul Schaberg: Tree physiology, air pollution ecology, climate change, tree species restoration

Paul Schaberg uses pole pruner.Paul focuses his research on how anthropogenic influences such as climate change, acid deposition, and cutting practices affect forest health and tree productivity. He considers how these factors impact tree physiology, including cold tolerance, nutrient and carbohydrate interactions, and leaf pigmentation. Some of his current projects include a study of red spruce winter injury and other aspects of conifer cold tolerance, a project on the decline of sugar maples, research on the impacts of calcium depletion on tree health, understanding the biological reasons for red leaf color in the fall, and work on cold tolerance as related to American chestnut restoration. For more information, visit Paul's USDA Forest Service webpage or his Rubenstein School profile.

Kimberly Wallin: Forest ecosystem health, climate change, terrestrial food webs, entomology, invasive species, biodiversity

Laricobius nigrinus feeding on Hemlock Woolly AdelgidKimberly's broad experiences in forestry, ecology, and entomology inspire her to conduct research in collaboration with other scientists that explores the complex interactions that define forest ecosystems. She focuses on questions related to the patterns and functions of forests in response to human-induced changes in climate, land use, and introduction of non-native invasive terrestrial organisms, especially insects. Recently, she's integrated environmental sociology and ecological economics into her research approach to explore the human-dimensions of management decisions and land-use change. To learn more, visit Kimberly's website.

Last modified February 25 2014 03:36 PM