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Leslie Brandt

Leslie Brandt
Climate Change Specialist
Climate, Fire, and Carbon Cycle Sciences
1992 Folwell Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108-1034
United States
Current Research

As a Climate Change Specialist for NIACS and the Forest Service Eastern Region, I work to bridge climate change research with forest management. My primary responsibility is to coordinate the Central Hardwoods and Urban Forestry Climate Change Response Framework projects. As coordinator for the Central Hardwoods, I developed an ecosystem vulnerability assessment for Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri. Information from the assessment is currently being used to develop climate change adaptation strategies and tactics for forests in the Central Hardwoods Region in real-world demonstration projects. The Urban Forestry Climate Change Response Framework project aims to engage with communities across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest that are interested in adapting their urban forest management to climate change. 

I also provide general outreach and support for climate change activities in the Forest Service Eastern Region. This includes developing web resources in support of the Forest Service Climate Change Scorecard, developing classroom-based climate change training, and keeping the National Forests in the Eastern Region up-to-date with policies and research outcomes related to climate change and forest management.

Past Research
My past research has focused on understanding the role photodegradation (breakdown by solar radiation) plays in carbon and nitrogen cycling in desert and grassland ecosystems. This poorly understood process can play a significant role in the carbon cycle when biological activity is low and solar radiation is high, and has important implications for how carbon cycling may be altered under a changing climate.
Research Interest

climate change adaptation, climate change communication, vulnerability assessments, applied science, ecosystem ecology

Why This Research Is Important

Understanding the impacts of climate change and finding ways to adapt to those changes helps managers make informed decisions about forest management.

  • University of Minnesota, Ph.D., Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, 2009
  • Gustavus Adolphus College, B.A., Biology, 2002
Professional Organizations
  • Member,  American Society of Adaptation Professionals,  2013 - Current
  • Vice President Of Education-Dialoggers Club,  Toastmasters International,  2010 - Current
  • Member,  Earth Science Women's Network,  2008 - Current
Awards & Recognition
  • Minnesota Adaptation Award to an Institution , 2014
    Awarded to the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science for its work in climate change adaptation in Minnesota forests.
  • 2013 Northern Research Station Director's Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, 2013
    2013 Northern Research Station Director's Award for Excellence in Science and Technology award to Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Citations of Non-Forest Service Publications
  • King, J.Y., L.A. Brandt, and E.C. Adair. 2012. Shedding light on plant litter decomposition: advances, implications and new directions in understanding the role of photodegradation. Biogeochemistry 111: 1-3. DOI: 10.1007/s10533-012-9737-9

    Brandt, L.A., J.Y. King, S.E. Hobbie, D.G. Milchunas, and R.L. Sinsabaugh. 2010. The role of photodegradation in surface litter decomposition across a grassland ecosystem precipitation gradient. Ecosystems 13: 765-781.

    Brandt, L.A., C. Bohnet, and J.Y. King. 2009. Photochemically-induced carbon dioxide production as a mechanism for carbon loss from plant litter in arid ecosystems. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences 114: G02004, doi:10.1029/2008JG000772.

    Brandt, L. A., J. Y. King, and D. G. Milchunas. 2007. Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation on Litter Decomposition Depend on Precipitation and Litter Chemistry in a Shortgrass Steppe Ecosystem." Global Change Biology 13.10: 2193-205.

    Parton W, Silver WL, Burke IC, Grassens L, Harmon ME, Currie WS, King, J.Y. Adair, E.C.,Brandt, L.A. , Hart, S.C. , Fasth, B. 2007. Global-Scale Similarities in Nitrogen Release Patterns during Long-Term Decomposition. Science 315.5810: 361-4.

    Brandt, L. A., and E. W. Koch. 2003. Periphyton as a UV-B Filter on Seagrass Leaves: A Result of Different Transmittance in the UV-B and PAR Ranges. Aquatic Botany 76.4: 317-27.

Research Highlights

Adapting urban forests to a changing climate

Year: 2017
A framework for urban forest vulnerability assessment and adaptation, piloted with partners in the Chicago region, is informing master planning for urban trees in the city of Chicago and is expanding to other urban areas in the Midwest and Northeast.

Resources Help Land Managers Adapt to a Changing Climate

Year: 2016
An adaptation planning tool developed by the Forest Service and its partners has helped generate more than 185 examples of climate change adaptation across the Northeast and Midwest.

Urban Forestry Climate Change Response Framework Pilot Launched

Year: 2015
Forest Service scientists are working to incorporate climate change considerations into urban forest management in the Chicago area. Recently, they co-sponsored, with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, two workshops and a national conference.

Scientists and Managers Work To Develop Climate-Smart Conservation Strategies

Year: 2012
Project that addresses the needs of land managers in a changing climate has expanded to nine States and more than 133 million acres