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Sharon M. Hood

Sharon M. Hood
Research Ecologist
Fire, Fuel and Smoke
5775 Highway 10 West
Missoula, MT 59808-9361
United States
Current Research

The primary focus of my research is on how fire affects trees and ultimately forest dynamics. My past and current research falls into three broad categories:

  1. What are the causes and mechanisms of postfire tree mortality? Surprisingly, tree death is still not well understood and therefore hampers efforts to accurately model and predict the impact of disturbance and climate change on tree mortality. My research seeks to understand fire-related factors leading to tree death and the causes of tree mortality. Currently, my research in this area focuses on the impacts of fire and climate on tree carbon allocation patterns to defense, storage, and growth to determine how allocation relates to tree mortality. 
  2. How do changes in fire regimes affect forest succession and forest resilience to climate change and future disturbance? Local fire regimes have been altered in many ecosystems due to direct and indirect anthropogenic activities. Changes in fire frequency and seasonality can cause shifts in species composition and fuel characteristics, which can then impact fire effects through associated changes in fire intensity. Most of my research in this area has focused on the impact of reducing fire frequency in fire-dependent ecosystems. This area of research also examines the effects of silvicultural and fuel treatments to increase understanding of treatment options that foster resilient forests. 
  3. What are the effects of fire on host tree susceptibility to bark beetle attack?  Fire can directly impact tree defense and carbon acquisition, which in turn, affects susceptibility to bark beetle attack. Yet fire also can affect stand-level and landscape-level processes such as nutrient and water availability and host tree location. My research examines how fire affects tree defense and ultimately influences the susceptibility of trees to bark beetle attack. Teasing apart the contribution of host tree defenses, stand-level processes, and regional-scale synchrony due to climate on bark beetle population regulation is critical to improve our understanding of outbreaks and how both climate change and management will affect forest susceptibility to bark beetles. 
Research Interest
My research interests are: fire-induced tree mortality, fire and insect interactions, and silvicultural and fuel treatment effects.
  • University of Montana, Ph.D., Organismal Biology and Ecology, 2015
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, M.S., Forestry, 2001
  • Mississippi State University, B.S., Forestry, 1997
Professional Experience
  • Research Ecologist,  Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program, Rocky Mountain Research Station, US Forest Service,  2015 - Current
  • Post-doctoral Researcher,  University of Montana, College of Forestry and Conservation, Department of Forest Management,  2015 - 2015
  • Ecologist,  Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Program, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service,  2009 - 2014
  • Forester,  Fire Ecology and Fuel Unit, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service,  2001 - 2009
Professional Organizations
  • Board Member,  Association for Fire Ecology,  2016 - Current
  • Member,  Ecological Society of America,  2013 - Current
  • Member,  Association for Fire Ecology,  2007 - Current
Featured Publications
Other Publications