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Chelcy F. Miniat

Chelcy F. Miniat
Program Manager
Maintaining Resilient Dryland Ecosystems
333 Broadway SE, Suite 115
Albuquerque, NM 87102-3407
United States
Current Research
My research is centered on developing a mechanistic understanding of watershed ecosystem function by studying how abiotic and biotic factors (e.g., species, environmental variables, disturbances) regulate carbon, nutrient, and water cycling processes. My personal research spans the continuum from the organism, to stands, to landscapes and includes determination of the roles of species and natural and anthropogenic disturbances (including forest management activities) in regulating ecosystem hydrologic processes. I am conducting a combination of ecophysiological and ecosystem studies at multiple scales to understand and forecast how evapotranspiration and streamflow are regulated by biotic and abiotic factors.
Research Interest
My primary areas of emphasis are: (1) quantifying rates of and driving mechanisms influencing water and carbon fluxes in trees across a range of environmental conditions; and (2) scaling these measurements spatially and temporally, often in a predictive manner, to make inferences on forest ecosystem processes (e.g., forest hydrologic and carbon cycles) under changing management or climatic conditions.
Why This Research Is Important

Being able to resolve the importance of species identity on the water cycle is challenging, but critical for addressing questions of management, natural disturbances, and climate change on stream flow. Management and natural distrubance often create forests with specific species and structure. Climate change will have a similar effect. Because the average rate at which ecosystems must shift geographically to keep pace with changing temperatures as a result of global warming is 0.42 km/year, most ecosystems will face temperature increases faster than species will be able to migrate or adapt, leading to mass extinction of many plant species. Thus, developing an understanding of species-level variation on forest processes will allow us to predict the impacts of invasive insects (e.g. hemlock woolly adelgid) and disease (e.g. chestnut blight), climate change (i.e., by linking stress physiology with population dynamics), and develop management options to adapt to or mitigate the impacts on stream flow.

  • University of Georgia, Ph.D., Forest Resources, 2004
  • University of South Florida, M.S., Botany, 1999
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, B.S., Applied Biology, 1997
Professional Experience
  • Program Manager and Biological Scientist,  USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Maintaining Resilient Dryland Ecosystems,  2019 - Current
  • Research Project Leader and Research Ecologist,  USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Center for Forest Watershed Research, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory,  2012 - 2019
  • Research Ecologist,  USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Center for Forest Watershed Research, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory,  2004 - 2012
  • Graduate Research Assistant,  Environmental Protection Agency STAR Graduate Fellow, Univeristy of Georgia, Warnell School of Forest Resources,  2000 - 2004
  • Technician,  Univeristy of South Florida, Department of Biology,  2000 - 2000
  • Grantee,  US Environmental Protection Agency, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL), Western Ecology Division,  1999 - 2000
  • Graduate Research Assistant,  University of South Florida, Department of Biology,  1997 - 1999
  • Technician,  Georgia Department of Natural Resources/Environmental Protection Division,  1993 - 1994
Professional Organizations
  • Member,  American Geophysical Union,  2006 - Current
  • Member,  Ecological Society of America,  2002 - Current
  • Member,  American Institute of Biological Sciences,  2002 - 2002
Awards & Recognition
  • USDA Certificate of Appreciation for OCS contributions, 2019
    For invaluable skills and technical expertise integrating water, climate change,and soils issues across USDA and coordinating Federal support to reduce the impact of current drought events
  • USDA Certificate of Appreciation, 2016
    For contributions to “Understanding the Impacts of Drought on the Nation’s Forests and Grasslands: Providing a Scientific Foundation for Effective Management Responses” —2016 Chief’s Award
  • Outstanding Academic Titles published in 2014 by the American Library Association’s Choice magazine , 2015
    Full citation: doi: 10.5860/CHOICE.52.05.741, Choice January 2015. 52(5):741-771.
  • The Soil Science Society of America, Forest, Range and Wildland Division 2013 Best Oral Paper Award, 2013
    To Wurzburger, N. and Miniat, C.F. for "Drought enhances symbiotic di-nitrogen fixation and competitive ability of a temperate forest tree"
  • USDA Southern Research Station Director’s Award—Science Delivery Award , 2011
    For the Southern Forest Futures Project
  • USDA Southern Research Station Director’s Award—Early Career Scientist Award, 2008
    For remarkable research productivity, expertise, and standing in the field of ecophysiological research
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Forest Community Dynamics After Widespread Die-Off From an Invasive Insect

Year: 2012
Understanding how microclimate and forest community respond to eastern hemlock die-off

Shade and hemlock woolly adelgid infestation increase eastern hemlock foliar nutrient concentration

Year: 2018
Eastern hemlock trees are dying across much of eastern North America from the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). Due to the persistent changes in terrestrial and stream ecosystem structure and function, a wide variety of strategies are being developed and implemented to reduce the effects of HWA...

Assessment of the Interaction of Climate Change, Fire, and Forests in the U.S. Published

Year: 2014
Fire has been one of the most frequent and severe disturbances to ecosystems globally and, as such, one of the major regulators of forest composition, function and dynamics. Any consideration of forests under a changing climate regime, therefore, must be viewed through a prism of fire interactions. ...

Loss of Eastern Hemlock Affects Peak Flows after Extreme Storm Events

Year: 2014
Few studies have examined how insect outbreaks affect landscape-level hydrologic processes. In this study, Forest Service scientists report the hydrologic effects of the invasive, exotic Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in a headwater catchment in the southern Appalachian Mountains.

Warmer temperatures reduce forest productivity but not water use

Year: 2018
Warmer temperatures are expected to lengthen the growing season for forests. Longer growing seasons may also increase forest water use and productivity. However, other key processes affecting water and carbon cycles are also highly temperature-dependent.

Quantifying the Role of National Forest System Lands in Providing Surface Drinking Water Supply for the Southern United States

Year: 2014
In the South, as in the rest of the U.S., people and communities depend on forests as the headwaters for clean and dependable water supply. A new publication by U.S. Forest Service researchers provides details at the landscape level on the quantity of water southern communities receive from federal,...