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Kasten Dumroese

Kasten Dumroese
Research Plant Physiologist / National Nursery Specialist
Maintaining Resilient Dryland Ecosystems
1221 South Main Street
Moscow, ID 83843
United States
Current Research

My current research focuses on providing the National Forest System with the science foundation for a National Reforestation Strategy, understanding  the long-term processes of tree root system architecture in response to nursery practices and on-going mechanical stresses, evaluating biochar to improve nursery efficiencies, and describing long-term effects on carbon and nitrogen pools under different land management and silviculture scenarios.

I am also Director the Western Center for Native Plant Conservation and Restoration Science, a collaboration of scientists in the Pacific Northwest, Pacific Southwest, and Rocky Mountain Research Stations working in these fields.

Past Research

My research has improved the process of native plant propagation. Native plant species are produced with my protocols and my protocol format is routinely followed in the literature and the Native Plant Propagation Protocol Database. My seminal work on quantifying errant discharge of water and nutrients using novel techniques I developed led to science-based options to apply water and fertilizer more efficiently and sustainably. Basic research on nursery root diseases and the subsequent best management plans that my teams developed significantly reduced incidence of this serious pathogen. We found that the fungus Fusarium commune, rather than Fusarium oxysporum, is the more virulent pathogen, supplanting existing concepts about this nursery disease. Our development of a rapid molecular assay to discern this disease has markedly changed the paradigm of future research endeavors concerning this nursery pathogen, and has potential to revolutionize disease assessment in nurseries by providing real-time information. My teams have developed and advocated methods to avoid or mitigate pitfalls of confounding factors in nursery research and in deploying stocktype trials. I synthesized and delivered my research, along with that of peer scientists, and subsequently provided nursery managers and field restorationists holistic tools; some tools have been translated into Spanish, Dari, Creole, French, and Arabic. To improve communication within the native plant propagation profession, my Internet-based propagation protocol database, and the 3150 native plant propagation protocols in it, was accessed 12,675 times during 2019. I led efforts to bridge the gap between native plant propagation and native plant deployment by initiating a new journal that is innovative because it publishes refereed research and general technical articles to encourage “cross pollination” among researchers and field professionals. Recent work showing on-going changes to coarse root system architecture challenges existing tree-stability paradigms and provides new conceptual models. I co-led the WO-requested effort to synthesize the science underpinning contemporary approaches to forest restoration, including native plant deployment, and argue for approaching forest restoration (and other ecosystems as well), from a functional standpoint. Team work with assisted migration challenges existing paradigms about appropriate plant material transfer guidelines, lays the groundwork for future research in assisted migration, and in concert with functional restoration, is contributing significantly to, and expanding the debate about, restoration practices in response to changes in climate.

Research Interest

My research interests include all aspects of propagating and outplanting native plants. From the nursery perspective, my research includes nursery production systems, specifically propagation, plant-disease interactions, plant nutrition, and water management. From the outplanting perspective, my research includes assisted migration as a management adaptation to climate change, functional restoration of plant communities, and long-term development of tree root systems.

View my video profile:

Why This Research Is Important

In the US, more than 1400 native plant nurseries, operated by federal, tribal, state, private, and not-for-profit entitiies, annually produce more than a billion seedlings for reforestation and restoration. Ensuring seedlings are produced efficiently and with high quality reduces costs and improves seedling performance (survival and growth) after outplanting. The end result is that restoration work to maintain ecosystem function is done in the most efficient and economic ways possible. In addition, my research with assisted migration and functional restoration will help ensure that appropriate plant materials, in terms of adaptation, are applied to the landscape.

  • University of Idaho, Moscow, Ph.D., Forestry, 1996
  • University of Idaho, Moscow, M.S., Forest Resources, 1986
  • Michigan Technological University, Houghton, B.S., Forest Management, 1984
Professional Experience
  • Senior Scientist,  USDA Forest Service,  2020 - Current
  • Director, Western Center for Native Plant Conservation and Restoration Science,  USDA Forest Service,  2016 - Current
  • National Nursery Specialist,  USDA Forest Service,  2002 - Current
  • Research Plant Physiologist,  USDA Forest Service,  2001 - Current
  • Research Scientist,  University of Idaho (Moscow), College of Forestry, Wildlife, and Range Sciences, Department of Forest Resources, Forest Research Nursery,  2000 - 2001
  • Research Associate,  University of Idaho (Moscow), College of Forestry, Wildlife, and Range Sciences, Department of Forest Resources, Forest Research Nursery,  1986 - 2000
  • Assistant Manager,  University of Idaho (Moscow) Forest Research Nursery,  1984 - 1986
Professional Organizations
  • Member,  International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO),  2006 - Current
    2015: Served on the science committee organizing Reforestation Challenges. Belgrade, Serbia. 2010 to 2012: Served on the science committee organizing Restoring Forests: Advances in Techniques and Theory, focused on the nursery and outplanting aspects of forest restoration. Madrid, Spain.
  • Member,  Society of American Foresters (SAF),  1984 - Current
  • Guest Associate Editor,  New Forests,  2017 - 2018
    Served as associate editor for a special issue containing manuscripts from the USFS Reforestation Matters Workshop.
  • Associate Editor,  Canadian Journal of Forest Research,  2011 - 2016
  • Editor-In-Chief,  Native Plants Journal,  2000 - 2014
    I initiated the journal and served as Editor-in-Chief for the first 15 volumes.
  • Associate Editor,  New Forests,  2011 - 2012
    Served as associate editor for a special issue containing manuscripts from the IUFRO conference: Restoring Forests: Advances in Techniques and Theory. Madrid, Spain.
  • Associate Editor,  Tree Planters' Notes,  1996 - 1999
Awards & Recognition
  • Research & Development Deputy Chief Award for Distinguished Science, 2022
    For a distinguished science career that framed and solved many complex native plant propagation problems and integrated that process with native plant deployment and restoration on the landscape.
  • Chief's Honor Award, 2017
    From Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke for Applying Knowledge Globally as part of the National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources team.
  • National Silviculture Award, 2017
    From the National Forest System, Washington Office, for excellence in silviculture research.
  • Outstanding Technology Transfer Publication , 2015
    From John Phipps, Director, Rocky Mountain Research Station, for Tropical Nursery Manual: A Guide to Starting and Operating a Nursery for Native and Traditional Plants, USDA Forest Service Agriculture Handbook 732.
  • Science Delivery Award, 2015
    From John Phipps, Director, Rocky Mountain Research Station, for leadership in initiating the Native Plants Journal and sustaining it as editor for 15 volumes.
  • National Technology Transfer Award, 2013
    From the Society of American Foresters, the scientific and educational organization representing the forestry profession in the United States.
  • Civil Rights Award , 2011
    From G. Sam Foster, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Director, for “innovative, high performance professionalism to their tribal constituents in support of the Station’s program of service to tribal communities.”
  • Tribal Relations Professional Excellence Award, 2011
    From the Office of Tribal Relations, Washington Office, for the Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetics Resources Tribal Nursery Emphasis.
  • Outstanding Technology Transfer Publication, 2009
    From G. Sam Foster, Director, Rocky Mountain Research Station, for “Nursery Manual for Native Plants – A Guide for Tribal Nurseries, USDA Forest Service Agriculture Handbook 730.”
  • Karl Urban Celebrating Wildflowers Award – Excellence in Native Plant Materials Management, 2007
    From National Forest System, Washington Office, for “initiating the Native Plants Journal, the Native Plants Propagation Protocol Database, and developing native plant work with American Indians.”
  • Two Chiefs' Partnership Award, 2006
    From Dale Bosworth, Chief of the Forest Service, and Arlen Lancaster, Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service for “restoring riparian forests on the Hopi reservation,” a collaborative effort involving these two USDA agencies.
  • Director’s Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer, 2005
    From Peter Roussopoulos, Director, Southern Research Station, for “work hosting meetings and training sessions to increase participation of American Indian tribal members in nursery work to help restore native plant communities.”
  • Director's Partnership Award, 2005
    From Peter Roussopoulos, Director, Southern Research Station, for “partnerships between the Forest Service (Research and Development and Cooperative Forestry), Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Native American tribes."
  • Director's Natural Resource Stewardship Award, 2004
    From Peter Roussopoulos, Director, Southern Research Station, to employees of RWU-4111 “for their work in restoration of longleaf pine ecosystems, long-term forest sustainability, and national nursery and reforestation technology transfer.”
Featured Publications
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