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Becky K. Kerns

Becky K. Kerns
Research Ecologist
Threat Characterization and Management
3200 SW Jefferson Way
Corvallis, OR 97331-8550
United States
Phone
541-750-7497
Current Research

Much of my recent work sits at the nexus of plant ecology and fire, fuel, and climate science. Current projects are focused on 1) disturbance and plant invasion in forests, 2) current and future wildfire risk and novel fuels in western forests, 3) understory vegetation patterns and dynamics, and 4) modeling climate change impacts to vegetation and invasive species.

 

Kerns, Becky K.; Tortorelli, Claire; Day, Michelle A.; Nietupski, Ty; Barros, Ana M.G.; Kim, John B.; Krawchuk, Meg A. 2020. Invasive grasses: A new perfect storm for forested ecosystems?. Forest Ecology and Management. 463: 117985-. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2020.117985.
Past Research
My past work has studied nontimber forest products, phytolith analysis, paleoecology, and geomorphology.
Research Interest
The goals of my research program are to understand vegetation changes and drivers across landscapes at multiple temporal and spatial scales, and formulate approaches to using this information to improve the management of landscapes.
Why This Research Is Important
Forests and rangelands are dynamic systems subject to a variety of disturbances, both natural and human-caused. These disturbances shape their composition and function and dictate, to some extent, the ecosystem services that are provided. Disturbances are a normal, necessary, and desired part of ecosystem dynamics. Human-caused disturbances may be unintentional or intentional and designed to effect a change in system function or to produce desired goods and services (e.g., timber harvest), but both may result in unanticipated and undesirable consequences. Studying invasive species aids in the search for generality in ecology while providing context specific information regarding invasion, and the potential for long term soil or vegetation change to land managers and restoration practitioners.
Education
  • Northern Arizona University, Ph.D., Forest Science, 1999
  • Northern Arizona University, M.S., Quarternary Studies, 1994
  • UC Santa Barbara, B.S., Geology, 1988
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability of Tribally Important Ecosystem Services

Year: 2020
Climate change is affecting tribally important ecosystem goods and services, including food, water, medicine, spiritual needs, and cultural identity. Working with tribal stakeholders, USDA Forest Service scientists demonstrate a generalizable approach to identify tribally important species and resou...

Cheatagrass response to prescribed burning in Oregon studied over 10 years

Year: 2017
Scientists created a model to explain cheatgrass dynamics at different invasion stages, from local cheatgrass establishment to broader scale invasions.

Mapping Coincidence of Landscape Exposure to Multiple Stressors Including Climate Change

Year: 2016
New maps factor in climate change and illustrate landscape exposure to additional stressors (wildfire potential, insects and disease risk, urban and exurban development) for the conterminous United States. This approach can be used in vulnerability assessments, informing where and why biodiversity a...

Scientists develop current and future habitat suitability maps for invasive tamarisk species

Year: 2010
Tamarisks are shrubs or small trees considered by some to be among the most aggressively invasive and potentially detrimental exotic plants in the United States. Climate change has the potential to significantly affect the species habitat and distribution. Understanding invasive species distribution...
https://www.fs.usda.gov/research/about/people/bkerns