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Brice Hanberry

Brice Hanberry

Research Ecologist

8221 Mt. Rushmore Rd.
Rapid City, SD 57702
Contact Brice Hanberry

Current Research

I am a Research Ecologist with the Grasslands, Shrublands, and Deserts program of the Rocky Mountain Research Station. My interests include understanding ecosystems under different drivers and integrating ecosystem changes with ecosystem and wildlife management at multiple scales across many extents. Current research involves historical ecosystems of open forests maintained by fire, tree biomass simulations under climate change, and juniper tree encroachment in grasslands and shrublands.

Research Interests

Analysis and management of disturbance effects including fire and fire exclusion, climate change, and land use on terrestrial ecosystems, natural resources, and wildlife at multiple scales, with particular focus on open oak and pine ecosystems. Oak and pine savannas and woodlands are part of a continuum between grasslands and closed forests. The unique bipartite characteristics of grasslands with a tree overstory are not recognized and therefore, undervalued for conservation and management.

Past Research

My past research ranges across many topics, including forests, wildlife, fire, and climate during postgraduate work at University of Missouri and graduate work at Mississippi State University.

Why This Research is Important

Open forests and grasslands have decreased by >98% in the eastern US, while in the Great Plains and western US, open forests and grasslands also have decreased. Birds, pollinators, plants, and other associated species have decreased with habitat loss and fragmentation at landscape scales, and degradation within remnants.


  • Mississippi State University, Ph.D., Forest Resources, 2007
  • Southern Illinois University, M.A., Biological Sciences, 2003
  • Professional Experience

    Research Associate, University of Missouri
    2008 to 2016

    Featured Publications


    Finch, Deborah M.; Baldwin, Carolyn; Brown, David P.; Driscoll, Katelyn P.; Fleishman, Erica; Ford, Paulette L.; Hanberry, Brice; Symstad, Amy J.; Van Pelt, Bill; Zabel, Richard, 2019. Management opportunities and research priorities for Great Plains grasslands
    Hanberry, Brice; Thompson, Frank R., 2019. Open forest management for early successional birds
    Hanberry, Brice; Brzuszek, Robert F.; Foster, H. Thomas I; Schauwecker, Timothy J., 2018. Recalling open old growth forests in the Southeastern Mixed Forest province of the United States
    Thompson, Frank R.; Hanberry, Brice; Shifley, Stephen R.; Davidson, Brian K., 2018. Restoration of pine-oak woodlands in Missouri: Using science to inform land management debates and decisions
    Hanberry, Brice; Coursey, Keith; Kush, John S., 2018. Structure and composition of historical longleaf pine ccosystems in Mississippi, USA
    Jin, Wenchi; He, Hong S.; Thompson, Frank R.; Wang, Wen J.; Fraser, Jacob S.; Shifley, Stephen R.; Hanberry, Brice; Dijak, William D., 2017. Future forest aboveground carbon dynamics in the central United States: the importance of forest demographic processes
    Iverson, Louis R.; Thompson, Frank R.; Matthews, Stephen; Peters, Matthew; Prasad, Anantha; Dijak, William D.; Fraser, Jacob; Wang, Wen J.; Hanberry, Brice; He, Hong; Janowiak, Maria; Butler, Patricia; Brandt, Leslie; Swanston, Christopher, 2017. Multi-model comparison on the effects of climate change on tree species in the eastern U.S.: results from an enhanced niche model and process-based ecosystem and landscape models
    Hanberry, Brice; Kabrick, John M.; Dunwiddie, Peter W.; Hartel, Tibor; Jain, Terrie B.; Knapp, Benjamin O., 2017. Restoration of temperate savannas and woodlands [Chapter 11]
    Dijak, William D.; Hanberry, Brice; Fraser, Jacob S.; He, Hong S.; Wang, Wen J.; Thompson, Frank R., 2017. Revision and application of the LINKAGES model to simulate forest growth in central hardwood landscapes in response to climate change
    Hanberry, Brice; He, Hong S.; Shifley, Stephen R., 2016. Loss of aboveground forest biomass and landscape biomass variability in Missouri, US
    Hanberry, Brice; Kabrick, John M.; He, Hong S., 2014. Changing tree composition by life history strategy in a grassland-forest landscape
    A map of the continental United States showing current plant hardiness zones in a scale of colors.
    Research from Rocky Mountain Research Station's Brice Hanberry and Northern Research Station Jacob Fraser shows changes in the ecological boundaries of plant hardiness zones and the Köppen-Trewartha classification system between current climate (1981–2010) and future climate (2070–2099), as well as changing climate within stationary state boundaries of the conterminous United States. Displaying concrete boundary shifts to emphasize potential implications may be more effective than displaying projected increases in temperature, which are seemingly small compared to daily and seasonal temperature variation.
    A grassland stretches out to a blue horizon.
    The Great Plains is the grasslands of the central United States, but precise delineation of this region has evaded agreement due to the transition between Great Plains grasslands and forests of the eastern United States. After comparing Great Plains delineations in readily available GIS (geographic information system) layers, Rocky Mountain Research Station scientist Brice Hanberry established a northeastern boundary using evidence from historical tree surveys during the 1800s.
    A picture of open oak forest with grassland understory treated by fire in Missouri, showing greenery and trees (photo courtesy of C. Kinkead).
    Although not presented in textbooks, open forests were the dominant historical forested ecosystems of the United States. Eastern and western oak forests and southeastern pine forests no longer occur at landscape scales. Management for open oak and pine forests will provide herbaceous habitat, critical to many declining bird and pollinator species.
    There is widespread interest in understanding the effectiveness of fuel treatments in mitigating the trajectory of wildfire suppression costs and how their effectiveness and longevity can be extended over large areas and landscapes. To date, there have been several studies that used a modeling approach to evaluate fuel treatment effectiveness at the landscape scale. However, empirical studies at this scale are rare because landscape-scale fuel treatment strategies have not been fully implemented or wildfires have not burned through implemented landscape fuel treatments. A thorough evaluation of what is currently available in the literature and lessons learned from forest and rangeland managers has not yet been conducted.
    The concepts of ecological resilience and resistance to invasive annual grasses have been used to develop an understanding of sagebrush ecosystem response to disturbances like wildfire and management actions to reduce fuels and restore native ecosystems. A multi-scale framework that uses these concepts to prioritize areas for conservation and restoration at landscape scales and to determine effective management strategies at local scales has been developed by Chambers and her colleagues. Regional SageSTEP (Sagebrush Treatment Evaluation Project) data coupled with west-wide AIM (Assessment, Inventory and Monitoring) data provide a unique opportunity to refine the predictors of resilience and resistance and extend the existing multi-scale framework effort.
    Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment in Support of Front Range National Forests and Colorado National Grasslands for Forest Plan Revision, Plan Amendments, and Project-Level Planning.
    RMRS scientists have teamed up with managers and researchers at Bridger-Teton National Forest and Colorado State University to compare herbicide treatments to reduce cheatgrass seedlings, allowing restoration of Native Sagebrush Grassland Plant Communities. ​
    Rangeland managers and livestock producers need timely and consistent tools that can inform grazing strategies, risk management, and allotment management plans. On the ground monitoring is expensive and resources can be limited, making it difficult to do consistently. The new Rangeland Production Monitoring Service can help make monitoring processes more effective and easier to implement.
    The Lassen and Modoc National Forests are revising their Forest Plans, guided by the 2012 Planning Rule. This requires public and tribal input throughout the process and embraces the fact that ecological, social, and economic objectives are interrelated. Because ecological, social, and economic conditions have changed since the original forest plans were written and new science is available, preparing a science synthesis, guided by input from the public, tribes, and forest staffs, is the first step in a multi-step process that eventually leads to revised forest plans.

    RMRS Science Program Areas: 
    Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems