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Robert A. Slesak

Robert A. Slesak
Research Forester
Land and Watershed Management
3625 93rd Ave. SW
Olympia, WA 98512-1101
United States
Current Research
Broadly, my research focuses on the effects of forest management and other ecosystem stressors on stand development and soil functions, and the development of mitigative actions or adaptive systems to minimize detrimental effects. Most of my research is conducted using experimental manipulation to directly quantify ecosystem responses. Current projects include assessment of ecological impacts of the invasive emerald ash borer in black ash wetlands, determining the effects of invasive Scotch broom on soil and plant communities and options for its control, and effects of intensive management (vegetation control, organic matter removal, soil compaction) on soil and stand factors in Douglas-fir and aspen forests. I am currently developing a research emphasis evaluating the influence of genotype, soil properties, and management practices on seedling drought susceptibility.
Past Research
My past research includes similar work to my current research, but also includes many additional topics relevant to sustainable resource management. These include evaluation of erosion following forest harvesting (traditional and salvage logging), use of remote sensing products (Landsat, Lidar) to evaluate forest disturbance patterns and harvesting impacts, development of diagnostic criteria for tree nutrition, and evaluation of the effectiveness of forest management guidelines to achieve intended outcomes.
Research Interest
- Adaptive silviculture
- Site-soil classifications
- Soil-plant resource dynamics
- Quantifying uncertainty
Why This Research Is Important
Forest ecosystems and the services they provide are constantly threated by changing conditions and stressors associated with management, natural disturbances, and climate change. My research is inherently focused on mitigating these threats by providing science-based information for the development of effective management practices and policy in operational settings. Forest managers use my research to make complex decisions to maintain the future supply of benefits that forest provide. To that end, I am keenly interested in improving the application of research in operational settings, including use of experiments that are expressly designed with research application as a primary objective.
  • Oregon State University, PhD Forest Soils, Effects of intensive management practices on soil properties and stand development, 2009
  • State University of NY, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, MS Forest Ecosystem Science, soil-plant nutrition diagnostics, 2004
  • State University of NY, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, BS Forest Resources Management, Forest Management , 2002
  • SUNY-ESF Ranger School , AAS Forest Technology, forest tech disciplines and techniques, 2000
Professional Experience
  • Faculty, Natural Resources Science and Management Graduate Program,  University of Minnesota ,  2013 - Current
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor ,  Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota ,  2010 - Current
  • Director of Applied Research,  Minnesota Forest Resources Council ,  2010 - 2020
Professional Organizations
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF),  Current
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Citations of Non-Forest Service Publications
  • Harrington, T.B., R.A. Slesak, J. Dollins, S.H. Schoenholtz, and D. Peter. 2020. Logging-debris configuration and vegetation control influence 15-year changes in soil C and N and stand characteristics of planted coast Douglas-fir in western Washington and Oregon.  Forest Ecology and Management

  • Littke, K., T.B. Harrington, R.A. Slesak, S. Holub, J. Hatten, A. Gallo, W. Littke, R. Harrison, and E. Turnblom. 2020. Longer-Term Effects of Organic Matter Removal and Vegetation Control on Aboveground and Belowground Nutrients and Douglas-fir Growth at Three Contrasting Pacific Northwestern Forest Sites.  Forest Ecology and Management 468.

  • Youngquist, M.B., C. Wiley, S.L. Eggert, A.W. D’Amato, B.J. Palik, and R.A. Slesak. 2020. Linking emerald ash borer to changes in ecosystem function: host loss effects on leaf decomposition and invertebrate growth. Wetlands.

  • Host, T.K., M.B. Russell, M.A. Windmuller-Campione, R.A Slesak, and J.F. Knight. 2020. Ash Presence and Abundance derived from Composite Landsat and Sentinel-2 Time Series and Lidar Surface Models in Minnesota, USA. Remote Sensing 12, 1341; doi:10.3390/rs12081341

  • Grinde, A., R.A. Slesak, A.W. D’Amato, and B.J. Palik. 2020. Effects of tree retention and woody biomass removal on bird and small mammal communities in Minnesota. Forest Ecology and Management 465:

  • Vogeler, J.C., R.A. Slesak, P.A. Fekety, and M.J. Falkowski. 2020. Characterizing four decades of forest disturbance in Minnesota.  Forests 11(3):

  • Diamond, J. S., D.L. McLaughlin, R.A., Slesak, and A. Stovall. 2020.  Microtopography is a fundamental organizing structure in black ash wetlands. Biogeosciences 17: 901-915.

  • Diamond, J., D. McLaughlin, R. Slesak, and A. Stovall.  2019. Pattern and structure of microtopography implies autogenic origins in forested wetlands. Hydrology and Earth Systems Sciences. 23 (12): 5069-5088.

  • Stoval, A., J.S. Diamond, R.A. Slesak, D.L. McLaughlin, and H. Shugart. 2019. Quantifying wetland microtopography with terrestrial laser scanning. Remote Sensing and the Environment.

  • McEachran, Z.P, R.A. Slesak, and D.L. Karwan. 2018. From skid trail to landscapes: vegetation is the dominant factor influencing erosion after forest harvest in a low relief glaciated landscape.  Forest Ecology and Management 430:299-311.

  • Vogeler, J., J.D. Braaten, R.A. Slesak, and M.J. Falkowski. 2018. Extracting the full value of the Landsat archive: Inter-sensor harmonization for the mapping of Minnesota forest canopy cover (1973-2015). Remote Sensing of Environment. 209:363-374.

  • Slesak, R.A., J. Corcoran, and R. Rossman. 2018. A holistic monitoring approach for water quality BMP and forest watershed risk assessment. Journal of Forestry 116(3): 283-290.

  • Costanza, K.L., W.H. Livingston, D.M. Kashian , R.A. Slesak, J.C. Tardiff, J.P. Dech, A.K. Diamond, J.J. Daigle, D.J. Ranco, J.S. Neptune, L. Benedict, S.R. Fraver, M. Reinikainen, and N. Siegert. 2017. The precarious state of a cultural keystone species: tribal and biological assessments of the role and future of black ash. Journal of Forestry

  • Slesak, R.A., and T. Kaebisch. 2016. Using LiDAR to assess impacts of forest harvest landings on vegetation height and the potential for recovery over time. Canadian J. Forest Research. 46(6): 869-875.

  • Slesak, R.A., S.H. Schoenholtz, and D. Evans. 2015. Hillslope erosion two and three years after wildfire, skyline salvage logging, and site preparation in southern Oregon, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 342:1-7.

  • Kurth, V.J., J.B. Bradford, R.A. Slesak, and A.W. D’Amato. 2014. Initial soil respiration response to biomass harvesting and green-tree retention in aspen-dominated forests of the Great Lakes region. Forest Ecology and Management 328:342-352.  

  • Slesak, R.A. 2013. Soil temperature following logging-debris manipulation and aspen regrowth in Minnesota: implications for sampling depth and alteration of soil processes. Soil Science Society of America Journal 77:1818-1824.

  • Slesak, R.A. and R.D. Briggs. 2010. Foliar mass and nutrition of Abies concolor Christmas trees following application of organic and inorganic fertilizer. Northern Journal Applied Forestry 27(1): 28-33.

  • Slesak, R.A. and R.D. Briggs. 2007. Christmas tree response to N fertilization and the development of critical foliar N levels in New York. Northern Journal Applied Forestry 24(3):209-217.

  • Toczydlowski, A., R.A. Slesak, R.K. Kolka, R.T. Venterea, A.W. D’Amato, and B.J. Palik. 2020. Effect of simulated emerald ash borer infestation on nitrogen cycling in black ash (Fraxinus nigra) wetlands in northern Minnesota, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 458: 117769

  • Carter, D.R., R.A. Slesak, T.B. Harrington and A.W. D’Amato. 2019. Effects of irrigation and phosphorus fertilization on physiology, growth, and nitrogen-fixation of Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius). Plant Physiology Reports

  • Carter, D.R., R.A. Slesak, T.B. Harrington and A.W. D’Amato. 2019. Comparative effects of soil resource availability on physiology and growth of Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) seedlings. Forest Ecology and Management 453.