Reconstructing Forest Stucture, Fire History, and Stand Spatial Patterns in Colorado Front Range Montane Forests to Inform Restoration: The Front Range Forest Reconstruction Network with Peter Brown, Paula Fornwalt, Mike Battaglia and Jose Negron. We are reconstructing historical (ca. 1860-1880) forest structure, reconstruct historical fire regimes and age structure, and reconstruct historical tree spatial patterns, densities and relative sizes of openings and contrast reconstructed patterns with current conditions. Surveying, dating and recoding culturally modified trees in northern Colorado with Marcy Reiser (ARNF) and Jason LaBelle (CSU). Reconstructing past bark beetle outbreaks at high elevations, and reconstructing fire history and stand structure in mountain pine beetle killed old growth lodgepole pine forests in northern Colorado with Jose Negron. Fire effects and bark beetle activity on existing mixed conifer plots burned in High Park fire with Jose Negron. Fire history and stand structure in mixed conifer forests and foothills woodlands in Larimer County, Colorado and species migrations, shifting ecotones and changing fire regimes relative to climate change in northern Colorado. Stand structure and disturbance history in spruce forests attacked by spruce beetles at GLEES in southern Wyoming with John Frank, Jose Negron, and Bill Massman. Reconstructing fire history and stand structure changes with climate in the foothills of Larimer County. Reconstructing Native American land use and influences on fire history in the foothills and mountains of northern Colorado using fire scars, culturally modified trees and archaeology and developing a model to detect Native American influences in historical fire regimes with Jason LaBelle and Jason Sibold (CSU). Locating, mapping and reconstructing fire history and stand structure in remnant high-elevation ponderosa pine stands in Larimer County, Colorado.
I am interested in how things got to be the way they are--a fairly simple question that usually has very complex answers. The how and why of what happened encompasses much of natural and human history and how people and forests interact with climate, disturbance, and each other over time. I am fascinated by how trees record their experiences in their growth and how that information can be decoded through the science of dendrochronology and applied to disturbance ecology and historical ecology. My primary interest has been in Rocky Mountain forests and woodlands across the entire elevational gradient, from plains to alpine tundra, and as far back in time as I can find any sort of record. Most recently I have become interested in Native American influences on historical fire regimes and human land use effects on stand structure, and how that interacted with climate. I would like to expand my knowledge of archaeology, and use other historical proxy data such as sediment cores and packrat middens in conjunction with tree rings to extend Front Range chronologies fartherback in time.
My research has involved reconstructing the history of forest stands and ecotones, fire regimes and human land use in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, across latitudinal and elevational gradients. My focus has been on fire history in ponderosa pine-dominated ecosystems.
To understand how organisms, communities and ecosystems function and how they change in response to changing climate and land use, we must look to the past. We must use multiple proxies and sources of information to get a picture of past ecosystem structure and function, including climate and disturbance recorded in tree rings, early written records and photographs, sediment cores, reconstructed temperature and precipitation, and archaeology. Reconstructing historical climate, disturance regimes, human land use and what was resilient and persisted, and what did not. From that knowledge we can begin to predict how organisms, communities and ecosystems might respond to current and future changes and advise managers on how to restore and manage them for resilience and desired trajectories in the future.