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Charles C. Rhoades

Chuck Rhoades

Research Biogeochemist

240 West Prospect Road
Fort Collins, CO 80526
Contact Charles C. Rhoades

Current Research

Research Interests

My research evaluates biogeochemical linkages between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in managed and unmanaged areas. Much of my work addresses the role of upland and riparian soils and vegetation in regulating nitrogen and carbon retention and export from forest watersheds and how natural and anthropogenic disturbance alters these processes.

Past Research

Briefing Papers

Miller, Sue; Rhoades, Chuck; Schnackenberg, Liz; Fornwalt, Paula; Schroder, Eric. 2015. Slash from the past: Rehabilitating pile burn scars. Science You Can Use Bulletin, Issue 15. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Research Station. 9 p.

Rhoades, C.C.; Entwistle, D.; Butler, D. 2012. Water Quality Effects Following a Severe Fire. Fire Management Today 72(2):35-39.

Collins, Bryon J.; Rhoades, Chuck C.; Battaglia, Michael A.; Hubbard, Robert M. 2012. Effects of salvage logging on fire risks after bark beetle outbreaks in Colorado lodgepole pine forests. Fire Management Today. 72(3): 18-22.

Malcolm, Karl; Rhoades, Chuck; Battaglia, Michael; Fornwalt, Paula; Hubbard, Rob; Elder, Kelly; Collins, Byron. 2012. From death comes life: Recovery and revolution in the wake of epidemic outbreaks of mountain pine beetle. Science You Can Use Bulletin, Issue 1. Fort Collins, CO: Rocky Mountain Research Station. 8 p.

Ryan, Mike; Battaglia, Mike; Rhoades, Chuck; Rocca, Monique. Reducing Fuels through Mulching Treatments: What are the Ecological Effects? 2011. Fire Science Brief. Issue 140.

Rhoades, Chuck; Hubbard, Rob; Collins, Byron; Battaglia, Mike; Elder, Kelly; Underhill, Jeff; Cheng, Tony. Signs of Recovery for Colorado Forests in the Wake of the Mountain Pine Beetle. October 2010. Colorado Forest Restoration Institute.

Why This Research is Important

  • Biogeochemical research helps land managers evaluate how well watershed conservation practices protect water quality and other aquatic resources. In snow-dominated watersheds of the central Rockies, the biogeochemical consequences of climate change, wildfire and insect outbreak are poorly understood. Research evaluates the elemental links between atmospheric deposition, vegetation and soil nutrient retention and transformation, and streamwater export. Study findings increase understanding of the natural range of variability in watershed processes and support efforts to monitor the consequences of management manipulations and assess the success of restoration treatments. Such work is also integral to long-term monitoring of Fraser Experimental Forest watersheds.

Current research projects address the following biogeochemical linkages:

  • Watershed biogeochemistry research examines the atmospheric, terrestrial, and aquatic processes that regulate soil and water quality and that sustain forest productivity. Specific studies consider the influence of:
    • Bark beetle outbreak on stream water quality and nutrient export
    • Headwater springs on basin-scale streamwater chemistry
    • Atmospheric dust deposition on snowpack chemistry
    • Snow redistribution on alpine biogeochemistry
    • Wildfire severity on streamwater chemistry
  • Research supporting sound resource management efforts to improve the health of western forests by reducing hazardous fuel loads, decommissioning roads or treating insect infestations will benefit from better understanding of the interplay between natural ecosystem dynamics and management actions. Specific studies assess:
    • The effectiveness of riparian buffers at maintaining aquatic condition and reducing water quality degradation caused by sediment and nutrient movement during timber harvesting operations
    • How recovery of soil nitrogen cycling processes regulates post-harvest nutrient retention and leaching in subalpine forests
    • The consequences of post-beetle outbreak salvage logging on soil and forest productivity
  • How mechanical fuel reduction alters water quality, soil productivity and forest regeneration


  • Colorado State University, B.S., Forest Management, 1984
  • Colorado State University, M.S., Forest Ecology, 1992
  • University of Georgia, Ph.D., Forest Biogeochemistry and Soil Ecology, 1997
  • Professional Experience

    Affiliate Faculty, Colorado State University, Department of Forest, Watershed and Range Stewardship, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and Graduate Degree Program in Ecology
    2003 to present

    Research Biogeochemist, US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Air, Water and Aquatic Environments Program
    2003 to present

    Assistant Professor of Restoration Ecology, Department of Forestry, University of Kentucky
    1998 to 2003

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow, US Geological Survey, Colorado State University
    1997 to 1998

    Graduate Research Assistant, Institute of Ecology, University of Georgia
    1993 to 1997

    Agroforestry Researcher, International Centre for Agroforestry Research, Malawi
    1991 to 1992

    Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Forestry, Colorado State University
    1989 to 1991

    Forestry and Agroforestry Technician, US Peace Corps, Ecuador
    1986 to 1989

    Forestry Technician, Colorado State Forest Service
    1982 to 1986

    Featured Publications


    Fegel, Timothy; Boot, Claudia M.; Covino, Timothy P.; Elder, Kelly J.; Hall, Edward K.; Starr, Banning J. , J; Stegen, James; Rhoades, Charles C., 2021. Amount and reactivity of dissolved organic matter export are affected by land cover change from old‐growth to second‐growth forests in headwater ecosystems
    Rhoades, Charles C.; Fegel, Timothy; Zaman, Tahir; Fornwalt, Paula J.; Miller, Susan P., 2021. Are soil changes responsible for persistent slash pile burn scars in lodgepole pine forests?
    Rhoades, Charles C.; Fegel, Timothy; Covino, Timothy P.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Elder, Kelly J., 2021. Sources of variability in springwater chemistry in Fool Creek, a high-elevation catchment of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, USA
    Avera, Bethany N.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Calderon, Francisco; Cotrufo, M. Francesca, 2020. Soil C storage following salvage logging and residue management in bark beetle-infested lodgepole pine forests
    Pallud, Celine; Rhoades, Charles C.; Schneider, Linden; Dwivedi, Pranjal; Borch, Thomas, 2020. Temperature-induced iron (III) reduction results in decreased dissolved organic carbon export in subalpine wetland soils, Colorado, USA
    Rust, Ashley J.; Saxe, Samuel; McCray, John; Rhoades, Charles C.; Hogue, Terri S., 2019. Evaluating the factors responsible for post-fire water quality response in forests of the western USA
    Daugherty, Ellen E.; McKee, Georgina A.; Bergstrom, Robert; Burton, Sarah; Pallud, Celine; Hubbard, Robert M.; Kelly, Eugene F.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Borch, Thomas, 2019. Hydrogeomorphic controls on soil carbon composition in two classes of subalpine wetlands
    Chow, Alex T.; Tsai, Kuo-Pei; Fegel, Timothy; Pierson, Derek; Rhoades, Charles C., 2019. Lasting effects of wildfire on disinfection by-product formation in forest catchments
    Pierson, Derek; Robichaud, Peter R.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Brown, Robert E., 2019. Soil carbon and nitrogen eroded after severe wildfire and erosion mitigation treatments
    Schilling, Kathrin; Borch, Thomas; Rhoades, Charles C.; Pallud, Celine E., 2019. Temperature sensitivity of microbial Fe(III) reduction kinetics in subalpine wetland soils
    Bergstrom, Robert M.; Borch, Thomas; Martin, Partick H.; Melzer, Suellen; Rhoades, Charles C.; Salley, Shawn W.; Kelly, Eugene F., 2019. The generation and redistribution of soil cations in high elevation catenas in the Fraser Experimental Forest, Colorado, U.S.
    Rhoades, Charles C.; Pelz, Kristen A.; Fornwalt, Paula J.; Wolk, Brett H.; Cheng, Antony S., 2018. Overlapping bark beetle outbreaks, salvage logging and wildfire restructure a lodgepole pine ecosystem
    Pelz, Kristen A.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Hubbard, Robert M.; Smith, Frederick W., 2018. Severity of overstory mortality influences conifer recruitment and growth in mountain pine beetle-affected forests
    Fornwalt, Paula J.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Hubbard, Robert M.; Harris, Rebecca L.; Faist, Akasha M.; Bowman, William D., 2018. Short-term understory plant community responses to salvage logging in beetle-affected lodgepole pine forests
    Rhoades, Charles C.; Minatre, Kerri L.; Pierson, Derek; Fegel, Timothy; Cotrufo, M. Francesca; Kelly, Eugene F., 2017. Examining the potential of forest residue-based amendments for post-wildfire rehabilitation in Colorado, USA
    Venable, Niah B. H.; Lockwood, Ryan; DiMaria, Joseph; Duda, Joseph; Rhoades, Charles C.; Mason, Lisa, 2017. Forest management to protect Colorado’s water resources: A synthesis report to support House Bill 16-1255
    Miller, Sue; Rhoades, Charles C.; Robichaud, Peter R.; Ryan-Burkett, Sandra E.; Kovecses, Jen; Chambers, Carl; Rathburn, Sara; Heath, Jared; Kampf, Stephanie; Wilson, Codie; Brogan, Dan; Piehl, Brad; Miller, Mary Ellen; Giordanengo, John; Berryman, Erin; Rocca, Monique, 2017. Learn from the burn: The High Park Fire 5 years later
    Fornwalt, Paula J.; Rocca, Monique E.; Battaglia, Mike A.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Ryan, Michael G., 2017. Mulching fuels treatments promote understory plant communities in three Colorado, USA, coniferous forest types
    Vorster, Anthony G.; Evangelista, Paul H.; Stohlgren, Thomas J.; Kumar, Sunil; Rhoades, Charles C.; Hubbard, Robert M.; Cheng, Antony S.; Elder, Kelly J., 2017. Severity of a mountain pine beetle outbreak across a range of stand conditions in Fraser Experimental Forest, Colorado, United States
    Rhoades, Charles C.; Miller, Susan; Covino, Tim; Chow, Alex; McCormick, Frank H., 2017. Stream water quality concerns linger long after the smoke clears: Learning from Front Range wildfires
    Hood, Paul R.; Nelson, Kellen N.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Tinker, Daniel B., 2017. The effect of salvage logging on surface fuel loads and fuel moisture in beetle-infested lodgepole pine forests
    Schlesinger, William H.; Dietze, Michael C.; Jackson, Robert B.; Phillips, Richard P.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Rustad, Lindsey E.; Vose, James M., 2015. Forest biogeochemistry in response to drought
    Rhoades, Charles C.; Fornwalt, Paula J.; Paschke, Mark W.; Shanklin, Amber; Jonas, Jayne L., 2015. Recovery of small pile burn scars in conifer forests of the Colorado Front Range
    Pelz, Kristen A.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Hubbard, Robert M.; Battaglia, Mike A.; Smith, F. W., 2015. Species composition influences management outcomes following mountain pine beetle in lodgepole pine-dominated forests
    Vose, James M.; Swank, Wayne T.; Adams, Mary Beth; Amatya, Devendra; Campbell, John; Johnson, Sherri; Swanson, Frederick J.; Kolka, Randy; Lugo, Ariel E.; Musselman, Robert (Bob) C.; Rhoades, Charles C., 2014. The role of experimental forests and ranges in the development of ecosystem science and biogeochemical cycling research [Chapter 17]
    Klutsch, Jennifer G.; West, Daniel R.; Battaglia, Mike A; Costello, Sheryl L.; Negrón, José F.; Rhoades, Charles C.; ; Caissie, Rick, 2013. Mountain pine beetle in lodgepole pine: mortality and fire implications (Project INT-F-07-03)
    Argerich, A.; Johnson, S.L.; Sebestyen, S.D.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Greathouse, E.; Knoepp, J.D.; Adams, M.B.; Likens, G.E.; Campbell, J.L.; McDowell, W.H.; Scatena, F.N.; Ice, G.G., 2013. Trends in stream nitrogen concentrations for forested reference catchments across the USA
    Collins, Bryon J.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Battaglia, Mike A.; Hubbard, Robert M., 2012. Effects of salvage logging on fire risks after bark beetle outbreaks in Colorado lodgepole pine forests
    Rhoades, Charles C.; Battaglia, Mike A.; Rocca, M. E.; Ryan, Michael G., 2012. Short- and medium-term effects of fuel reduction mulch treatments on soil nitrogen availability in Colorado conifer forests
    Jalali, Gholam Ali; Akbarian, Hossein; Rhoades, Charles C.; Yousefzadeh, Hamed, 2012. The effect of the halophytic shrub Lycium ruthenium (Mutt) on selected soil properties of a desert ecosystem in central Iran
    Clow, David W.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Briggs, Jennifer; Caldwell, Megan; Lewis, William M. Jr., 2011. Responses of soil and water chemistry to mountain pine beetle induced tree mortality in Grand County, Colorado, USA
    Andrews, Danielle M.; Barton, Christopher D.; Kolka, Randy; Rhoades, Charles C.; Dattilo, Adam J., 2011. Soil and water characteristics in restored canebrake and forest riparian zones
    Collins, Byron J.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Hubbard, Robert M.; Battaglia, Mike A., 2011. Tree regeneration and future stand development after bark beetle infestation and harvesting in Colorado lodgepole pine stands
    Stone, Katharine R.; Pilliod, David S.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Wollrab, Sherry P.; Young, Michael K., 2010. Fuel reduction management practices in riparian areas of the western USA
    Dwire, Kathleen A.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Young, Michael K., 2010. Potential effects of fuel management activities on riparian areas
    Battaglia, Mike A.; Rocca, Monique E.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Ryan, Michael G., 2010. Surface fuel loadings within mulching treatments in Colorado coniferous forests
    Klutsch, Jennifer G.; Negron, Jose; Costello, Sheryl L.; Rhoades, Charles C.; West, Daniel R.; Popp, John; Caissie, Rick, 2009. Stand characteristics and downed woody debris accumulations associated with a mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) outbreak in Colorado
    Callaham, Mac A. Jr.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Heneghan, Liam, 2008. A striking profile: Soil ecological knowledge in restoration management and science
    Heneghan, Liam; Miller, Susan P.; Baer, Sara; Callaham, Mac A. Jr.; Montgomery, James; Pavao-Zuckerman, Mitchell; Rhoades, Charles C.; Richardson, Sarah, 2008. Integrating soil ecological knowledge into restoration management
    Seo, Kyung Won; Son, Yowhan; Rhoades, Charles C.; Noh, Nam Jin; Koo, Jin Woo; Kim, Jeong-Gyu, 2008. Seedling growth and heavy metal accumulation of candidate woody species for revegetating Korean mine spoils
    Hubbard, Robert M.; Ryan, Michael G.; Elder, Kelly J.; Rhoades, Charles C., 2005. Seasonal patterns in soil surface CO2 flux under snow cover in 50 and 300 year old subalpine forests
    Rhoades, Charles C.; Meier, A. J.; Rebertus, A. J., 2004. Soil properties in fire-consumed log burnout openings in a Missouri oak savanna
    An aerial view of slash pile burn scars.
    We analyzed soil nutrients and chemistry and conducted in situ and greenhouse seedling bioassays to determine whether soil changes explain tree colonization patterns in slash pile burn scars. We found that soil changes may contribute somewhat to sparse tree colonization in burn scars, but they do not appear to be a significant barrier.
    Many fallen trees caught on one another in the Fraser Experimental Forest.
    Post mountain pine beetle outbreak snagfall dynamics create a multiple decade legacy that will persist longer in high-elevation compared to lower-elevation forests.
    Sampling streamwater in watersheds of the Hayman Fire
    Severe wildfires remove vegetation and organic soil layers and expose watersheds to erosion which can transport large quantities of soil and ash to nearby rivers and streams. But once the burned areas have stabilized, do severe wildfires have any longer-lasting effects on watersheds or water quality? This study follows the Hayman Fire, 2002, Colorado, and shows that yes, there are long-term effects.
    Mulched stands at a ponderosa pine – Douglas-fir study area, 6–9 years post-treatment.
    Mulching fuels treatments have been increasingly implemented by forest managers in the western USA to reduce crown fire hazard. These treatments use heavy machinery to masticate or chip unwanted shrubs and small-diameter trees and broadcast the mulched material on the ground. Because mulching treatments are relatively novel and have no natural analog, their ecological impacts are poorly understood.  
    RMRS Research Biogeochemist Chuck Rhoades is partnering with Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest staff and Colorado State University researchers to develop a restoration plan for Greater sage-grouse habitat in California Park, near Hayden, Colorado. It is uncertain to National Forest System land managers whether the current vegetation patterns are a result of livestock grazing, historic herbicide use, elk browsing, or are due to underlying soil differences. Building a better understanding of these interacting factors will aid restoration activities.
    RMRS scientists and staff have started an intensive project with the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest, along with other cooperators such as Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, to develop a comprehensive plan for fire management on the forest. This project will rely on the Cohesive Strategy framework and will bring in many cooperators.
    A workshop was hosted by the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed for those interested in wildfires and post-fire ecology and impacts, discussing transmission of key research findings from work done in the High Park Fire on key topics, implications for post fire restoration management decision making and identification of barriers to rehab/restoration action & knowledge gaps. Researchers from Rocky Mountain Research Station, CSU, and other regional institutions presented results from their work since the High Park Fire.
    Fire managers have increased their use of mastication, the on-site disposal of shrubs and small-diameter trees through chipping and shredding, a practice that alters the chemical and physical conditions of the forest floor and may influence vegetation regrowth for years or decades. We evaluated a network of 18 masticated sites to assess the effects of mastication treatments on plants and soils, and convey how these effects vary over time.
    The project evaluates instream sedimentation, sediment sources, and water quality following the High Park fire, including the effectiveness of mulching on reducing instream sediment loads.