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Susan Stout

Susan Stout
Emeritus Research Forester
Sustaining Forests in a Changing Environment
PO Box 267
335 National Forge Road
Irvine, PA 16329
United States
Current Research
Stout is a research silviculturist. Silviculture is "the art and science of controlling the establishment, growth, composition, health, and quality of forests and woodlands to meet the diverse needs and values of landowners and society" (Society of American Foresters 1994). Conducting silvicultural research means working at the interface of ecology and forest management, and the importance of silviculture only increases as our forests experience a suite of changing conditions—changing abundance of herbivores, changing disturbance regimes with increasing severe storms, changing seasonal weather patterns, changing air quality. Stout is very interested in stretching traditional silviculture to meet today’s challenges by tying it ever more closely to ecology and to landscape pattern.

One aspect of this research is modeling and measuring deer impact on forests (Dejager and others 2017). This includes participatory research with landowners in a demonstration called the Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative. Landowners, land managers, hunters, and scientists are working together to improve both hunting and habitat on 74,000 acres in northwestern Pennsylvania (Stout and others 2013). Related research led by Alejandro Royo should strengthen evidence of practical indicators of deer impact.

Another research interest is in translating results from ecosystem research into practical management guidelines for Pennsylvania's forests and beyond through the SILVAH system of decision support software, training sessions, and research collaboration with managers (Stout and Brose 2014). Recently, Stout and colleagues have explored linking silvicultural prescriptions for oak regeneration with ecological land typing for the forests of southeastern Ohio. Collaborators include the Wayne National Forest, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ohio State University, and the Ohio Division of Forestry.

Stout is an active participant in annual workshops in sustainable forestry offered by the Warren Forestry Sciences Laboratory team, and the lead scientist on on-going development of the SILVAH decision-support software package. In recent years, this has included updating and improving inferences about wildlife habitat for individual species from the data collected while using SILVAH.

Stout has also been working with Northern Research Station colleagues on issues related to diversity and inclusion in the natural resources. One effort showed that Forest Service Research and Development strategies were more successful than those of universities working in similar disciplines at recruiting women, but both kinds of institutions struggled to retain women (Kern and others 2015).

De Jager, Nathan R.; Drohan, Patrick J.; Miranda, Brian M.; Sturtevant, Brian R.; Stout, Susan L.; Royo, Alejandro A.; Gustafson, Eric J.; Romanski, Mark C. 2017. Simulating ungulate herbivory across forest landscapes: A browsing extension for LANDIS-II. Ecological Modelling. 350: 11-29.

Kern, Christel C.; Kenefic, Laura S.; Stout, Susan L. 2015. Bridging the gender gap: demographics of scientists in the USDA Forest Service and academia. BioScience. 65: 1165-1172.

Stout, Susan L.; Royo, Alejandro A.; deCalesta, David S.; McAleese, Kevin; Finley, James C. 2013: The Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative: can adaptive management and local stakeholder engagement sustain reduced impact of ungulate browsers in forest systems?. Boreal Environment Research. 18(suppl. A): 50-64.

Stout, Susan L.; Brose, Patrick H. 2014. The SILVAH saga: 40+ years of collaborative hardwood research and management highlight silviculture. Journal of Forestry. 112(5): 434-439.
Past Research
I have recently collaborated with colleagues at Penn State and the University of Georgia in development of a web site meant to serve as a central contact point for research results and management guidelines related to the interactions of deer and forests -
Research Interest
As I have had the privilege of working with an ever-widening network of collaborators and colleagues during my career, I have become increasingly interested in our ability to discern patterns that emerge over long time frames and large scales. The legacy effects of long-term herbivory are one example of such a pattern, and more recently our group has been collaborating to understand decades-long patterns of change in the ecology of Prunus serotina, black cherry. On the landscape scale, strategic thinking about how to conserve oak resources across a public-private gradient, or how to adapt management to address a converging suite of invasive insects are important challenges and interests.
Why This Research Is Important
Especially in eastern North America, very high proportions of forestland are privately owned (75% in the region of the Northern Research Station). Translating basic and applied forestry research into guidelines that are accessible and useable by the variety of private owners is critical to sustaining our forests and the values and benefits they provide. This requires continued research on techniques for forest management, whether to provide specific kinds of wildlife habitat or wood for energy or high-value sawtimber products. It also requires truly interdisciplinary research that integrates strategies for responding to global change, air pollution, and invasive species (both native and exotic).  It requires a commitment to engaging users through the full cycle of research and science delivery.

In our region, white-tailed deer and changing air quality have been a particularly important force in shaping forest vegetation communities for many decades.  These problems are important in other regions as well, and have been joined by invasives plants, insects, and pathogens as well as changing climate patterns to truly challenge sustainable forest management. Our research provides important guidance to those with emerging deer problems, and with recent changes in policy leading to a lower deer impact level locally, we can also provide valuable and practical information about indicators and rates of recovery.  We are in the midst of documenting how changing air quality affects important woody species in our forests as well as interspecies interactions, as well as studying the response of forests to invasives and climate change.  We work to ensure that all our research results are developed into tools useable by forest managers and built firmly on basic ecological understanding.
  • Yale University, D.F., , 1994
  • State University of New York, M.S., Silviculture, 1983
  • Radcliffe College of Harvard University, A.B., , 1972
Professional Experience
  • Research Project Leader,  Northeastern and Northern Research Station,  1991 - Current
  • Research Forester,  Northeastern Research Station,  1981 - 1991
Professional Organizations
  • Fellow,  Society of American Foresters (SAF),  2003 - Current
  • Member,  Pennsylvania State Bureau of Forestry Ecosystem Management Advisory Council,  1991 - Current
  • Co-Founder,  Society of American Foresters, Diversity And Inclusion Working Group,  2016 - Current
    With colleagues Linda Heath and Carol Redelsheimer, an effort to highlight emerging science related to Div. & Incl. in natural resources as a track at the 2016 Convention drew so much interest that a formal Working Group of the Society was approved in march of 2017.
  • Director,  Board of Directors of the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry,  2006 - 2015
  • Co-Program Chair,  SAF National Convention,  2006 - 2006
  • Member,  Northeastern Research Station's Science Advisory Team,  2003 - 2004
  • Chair,  Silviculture Working Group of the Society of American Foresters (SAF),  1999 - 2000
Awards & Recognition
  • Allegheny Hdwd Utilization Group Sandy Cochran Memorial Award, 2005
    For outreach and science delivery to northwestern Pennsylvania's forestry community
  • Fellow, Society of American Foresters, 2003
    Recognizes a combination of professional accomplishment and Society service
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Public - Private Cooperation Improves Management of Deer and Forests

Year: 2013
The Kinzua Quality Deer Cooperative (KQDC) was established in 2000 to test new approaches to stewardship of white-tailed deer and forest habitat on a 30,000-hectare landscape in northwestern Pennsylvania. Partners included land managers, scientists, educators, tourism promoters, and hunters. KQDC go...

New Book Documents Contributions from Forest Service's Long-Term Research Sites

Year: 2014
From the role of fire in forests to responses to clearcutting controversies, from the discovery of acid rain to the development of biogeochemical recycling research, Forest Service Experimental Forests and Ranges have been at the forefront. A new book prepared by a Forest Service scientist tells the...

Changes in Black Cherry on the Allegheny Plateau

Year: 2016
Increased tree mortality, decreased seed production, and seedling growth. Managers and scientists have been observing these changes in black cherry on the Allegheny Plateau and are working together to sharpen the research focus and utilize long-term research to improve forest management.