Post-doc position available

posted Apr 1, 2017, 2:33 PM by Robert Scheller

Research Position in Forest Modeling

We have an exciting opportunity within a new research project on forest landscape change and climate change. We are seeking an individual who can conduct forest modeling and work collaboratively across teams for two years. The research (postdoctoral) position is available at the Dynamic Ecosystems and Landscapes Lab at North Carolina State University and the Mathematical Ecology and Environmental Modeling Lab at The Washington State University Vancouver ( This person will work with the project PIs, Dr. Robert Scheller (NCSU) and Dr. Nick Strigul (WSUV), on parameterization and validation of ecological models, in particular, LANDIS-II and SORTIE-PPA. Additional information about the project is available at 

Desired qualification: PhD in relevant field, excellent programming skills (C++ and R), experience in datamining of ecological, environmental or climatic databases, statistics and model parameterization. We would also consider a candidate with MS degree in relevant area and 5+ years of professional experience in environmental modeling. Highly competitive salary and benefits. The successful candidate will be officially hired by Washington State University Vancouver. Position located in the Portland metropolitan area (OR). Portland area is in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, it provides exceptional recreational opportunities and healthy work/life balance. 

There is a flexibility in the starting date, the position can begin on June 1, 2017 or later. In order to receive full consideration please submit CV, cover letter and research statement by email ( and ) and arrange 3 letters of recommendation sent by references. 

Washington State University is an EO/AA educator and employer

We're moving!

posted Apr 1, 2017, 2:31 PM by Robert Scheller

Beginning in August, 2017, DE&L will be located at Dept. of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University.

Drs Scheller and Lucash receive NSF REU award!

posted Mar 13, 2017, 9:09 AM by Alec Kretchun   [ updated Mar 13, 2017, 3:24 PM by Melissa Lucash ]

Recently, the National Science Foundation awarded $8225 in support of a project entitled "Collaborative Research: Understanding the potential for a climate change-driven critical transition from forest to chaparral", under the direction of Dr. Robert Scheller and  Dr. Melissa Lucash. Funds provided by this award include support for "Research Experiences for Undergraduates", an NSF program dedicated to getting undergraduate students involved in active research projects. Congrats Drs Lucash and Scheller!

New publication in Ecosphere!

posted Feb 2, 2017, 2:21 PM by Alec Kretchun   [ updated Feb 2, 2017, 2:35 PM ]

A recently published manuscript by lead author Dan Krofcheck (U of New Mexico) entitled "Restoring surface fire stabilizes forest carbon under extreme fire weather in the Sierra Nevada", features co-authorship by Dr Robert Scheller, former lab member Dr Louise Loudermilk, and Dr Matthew Hurteau!

The team focused on the effects of fuel treatments on fire severity and carbon dynamics under both contemporary and extreme fire weather in the Dinkey Creek Collaborative Forest Restoration Project Area. They found that under contemporary fire weather, treatments had little effect on fire severity because of the low probability of fire occurrence. However, with simulations using extreme fire weather, the thin and maintenance burning decreased the proportion of the study area that experienced high-severity fire (figure below). Check out the attached research brief for more info on results and management implications. Nice work all!

Citation: Krofcheck DJ, MD Hurteau, RM Scheller, EL Loudermilk. 2017. Restoring surface fire stabilizes forest carbon under extreme fire weather in the Sierra Nevada. Ecosphere 8(1):e01663

Brooke Cassell receives NASA-MSU travel award!

posted Jan 23, 2017, 10:27 AM by Alec Kretchun   [ updated Jan 23, 2017, 3:12 PM by Brooke Cassell ]

Brooke Cassell has been selected to receive a NASA-MSU Professional Enhancement Award, which will support her travel to present at the International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE) meeting in Baltimore, Maryland in April. Brooke will be presenting a poster on her research titled "Would you like fires with that? Using stakeholder-derived forest management preference maps to model landscape-level fuel reduction treatment effects on wildfire spread.

US Forest Service Chief's Award to Wes Hoyer and others

posted Jan 19, 2017, 10:28 AM by Alec Kretchun

Congratulations to our very own Wes Hoyer for contributing to an ongoing project that just received an FY16 US Forest Service Chief's Award! The Portland Moss and Air Quality Project is using moss on urban trees around the city of Portland as a cheap and efficient way to monitor air quality. It's been a very high profile project here in PDX, having revealed some dangerously high levels of heavy metals near schools and neighborhoods that were previously undiscovered. Congrats to team lead Geoffrey Donovan and all involved in this groundbreaking and important work!

How will climate change affect Oregon's coast range? Likely less than potential changes to policy.

posted Dec 21, 2016, 2:43 PM by Robert Scheller   [ updated Dec 27, 2016, 7:21 AM ]

A new DE&L publication was just released:

Creutzburg, M. K., Scheller, R. M., Lucash, M. S., LeDuc, S. D. and Johnson, M. G. (2016), Forest management scenarios in a changing climate: tradeoffs between carbon, timber, and old forest. Ecol Appl. Accepted Author Manuscript. doi:10.1002/eap.1460

You can find the input data for this project here:

Abstract:  Balancing economic, ecological and social values has long been a challenge in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, where conflict over timber harvest and old-growth habitat on public lands has been contentious for the past several decades. The Northwest Forest Plan, adopted two decades ago to guide management on federal lands, is currently being revised as the region searches for a balance between sustainable timber yields and habitat for sensitive species. In addition, climate change imposes a high degree of uncertainty on future forest productivity, sustainability of timber harvest, wildfire risk, and species habitat. We evaluated the long-term, landscape-scale tradeoffs among carbon (C) storage, timber yield, and old forest habitat given projected climate change and shifts in forest management policy across 2.1 million hectares of forests in the Oregon Coast Range. Projections highlight the divergence between private and public lands under business-as-usual forest management, where private industrial forests are heavily harvested and many public (especially federal) lands increase C and old forest over time but provide little timber. Three alternative management scenarios altering the amount and type of timber harvest show widely varying levels of ecosystem C and old-forest habitat. On federal lands, ecological forestry practices also allowed a simultaneous increase in old forest and natural early-seral habitat. The ecosystem C implications of shifts away from current practices were large, with current practices retaining up to 105 Tg more C than the alternative scenarios by the end of the century. Our results suggest climate change is likely to increase forest productivity by 30-41% and total ecosystem C storage by 11-15% over the next century as warmer winter temperatures allow greater forest productivity in cooler months. These gains in C storage are unlikely to be offset by wildfire under climate change, due to the legacy of management and effective fire suppression. Our scenarios of future conditions can inform policy makers, land managers, and the public about the potential effects of land management alternatives, climate change, and the tradeoffs that are inherent to management and policy in the region.

Seeing the Future Impacts of Climate Change and Forest Management: a Landscape Visualization System for Forest Managers

posted Dec 8, 2016, 11:30 AM by Melissa Lucash   [ updated Dec 8, 2016, 11:30 AM ]

A new GTR was released today which describes LandViz, the new visualization tool for LANDIS output.  

Full citation: Gustafson, Eric; Lucash, Melissa; Liem, Johannes; Jenny, Helen; Scheller, Robert; Barrett, Kelly; Sturtevant, Brian. 2016. Seeing the future impacts of climate change and forest management: a landscape visualization system for forest managers. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-164. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 18 p.

Forest managers are increasingly considering how climate change may alter forests’ capacity to provide ecosystem goods and services. But identifying potential climate change effects on forests is difficult because interactions among forest growth and mortality, climate change, management, and disturbances are complex and uncertain. Although forest landscape models can account for most factors that structure forest landscapes (including climate change), the sometimes overwhelming amount of output from these models can make it hard for some managers to interpret and understand the projections. In an effort to help managers visualize and analyze model output, we developed an intuitive Web-based system: LandViz. We applied LandViz in a collaborative, iterative approach to conduct a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota using the LANDIS-II landscape model. LandViz enhanced managers’ collaboration with model experts and increased their understanding of the tradeoffs between amounts and types of various resources in a changing climate. Managers can use the insight gained from LandViz to inform their strategic and tactical planning as they manage these tradeoffs. 

New Department of Defense Grant: Comparing Models of Forest Change in Ft. Bragg, NC

posted Oct 29, 2016, 11:47 AM by Robert Scheller   [ updated Dec 5, 2016, 9:47 AM ]

We are excited to receive a new $500,000 grant from the Department of Defense!  We will be working with scientists from Washington State University - Vancouver to compare different modeling approaches to estimating the effects of climate change on the forests of Ft. Bragg, NC.
From the proposal:


1. Objective:

Ensuring the long-term sustainability of eastern US forests in the face of climate variability and change will require forest managers to have the best available climate change research at their fingertips to make sound management decisions.  Ecosystem process models now allow realistic projections of future forest conditions in response to anticipated climate, natural disturbance, forest management, and their interactions that can inform forest management decisions.  However, there is no single scale which is perfectly suited to addressing all climate change and management related questions.  Critical patterns which emerge at fine-scales may be over-averaged at larger scales and vice-versa.  Our objectives are to, a) compare model outcomes from two modeling frameworks against empirical data and to each other, b) examine climate change, disturbance, and management interactions at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, translate these procedures, and prepare a roadmap for deployment across other forested military installations.

2. Technology Description:

We propose a two-stage approach for integrating climate, disturbance, and management projections at multiple scales.  First, we will calibrate and compare each of two models, an individual-tree scale model (SORTIE-PPA) and a landscape-scale model (LANDIS-II with Century), against empirical data collected from two pine-dominated sites in the eastern US.  Second, we will apply both models against the Ft. Bragg ecosystem in central North Carolina under multiple projections of climate change.  We will assess the strengths and weakness of each model and their respective capacity to accurately project a suite of ecosystem processes, including succession, disturbance and nutrient cycling, given current and potential management practices and anticipated climate change.

We will work closely with Ft. Bragg to prepare both models for operational use via an iterative process that identifies goals and scenarios, data needs, and desired outputs.  Both models will be delivered to Ft. Bragg fully parameterized and prepared for subsequent use, including full documentation and access to the open-source code for each model.

3. Expected Benefits:

Successful demonstration and validation of the proposed ecosystem process models will help decision-makers integrate a multitude of management strategies into the context of the military mission and installation-specific natural resources management plans. Forest managers will be able to use either SORTIE-PPA or LANDIS-II to estimate the effects of different management practices on the local installations over varying time horizons and spatial scale resolutions. Upon completion, this technology can be applied immediately at Fort Bragg’s more than 89,000 acres of longleaf pine forests and at other DoD installations with forested habitats. 

Bending the carbon curve: fire management for carbon resilience under climate change.

posted Oct 5, 2016, 9:09 AM by Robert Scheller

An exciting new publication was released today in Landscape Ecology:  Bending the carbon curve: fire management for carbon resilience under climate change. 
Full citation: Loudermilk, E.L., R.M. Scheller. P.J. Weisberg, A.M. Kretchun. 2016. Bending the carbon curve: fire management for carbon resilience under climate change. Landscape Ecology.
Context:  Forest landscapes are increasingly managed for fire resilience, particularly in the western US which has recently experienced drought and widespread, high-severity wildfires. Fuel reduction treatments have been effective where fires coincide with treated areas. Fuel treatments also have the potential to reduce drought-mortality if tree density is uncharacteristically high, and to increase long-term carbon storage by reducing high-severity fire probability. 
Objective:  Assess whether fuel treatments reduce fire intensity and spread and increase carbon storage under climate change.
Methods:  We used a simulation modeling approach that couples a landscape model of forest disturbance and succession with an ecosystem model of carbon dynamics (Century), to quantify the interacting effects of climate change, fuel treatments and wildfire for carbon storage potential in a mixed-conifer forest in the western USA.
Results:  Our results suggest that fuel treatments have the potential to ‘bend the C curve’, maintaining carbon resilience despite climate change and climate-related changes to the fire regime. Simulated fuel treatments resulted in reduced fire spread and severity. There was partial compensation of C lost during fuel treatments with increased growth of residual stock due to greater available soil water, as well as a shift in species composition to more drought- and fire-tolerant Pinus jeffreyi at the expense of shade-tolerant, fire-susceptible Abies concolor.
Conclusions:  Forest resilience to global change can be achieved through management that reduces drought stress and supports the establishment and dominance of tree species that are more fire- and drought resistant, however, achieving a net C gain from fuel treatments may take decades.

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