The mission of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research and Regional Analysis group (TERRA-PNW) is to quantify and understand the response of terrestrial ecosystems to natural and human-induced changes such as climate, wildfire and land management practices. Our lab has diverse interests that share a common focus: understanding the dynamics of land-based ecological communities. Our insights into climate and disturbance effects on ecological processes and global change are generated primarily by research on forest, woodland and shrubland ecosystems.
Forest, Wildlife, and Landscape Ecology
Uses a range of research tools and models to understand how species act, react and interact at many spatial and temporal scales. These dynamics take place in an environment that can change gradually or quite rapidly, which can directly or indirectly affect species and their inter-relationships.
Members of FES examine how species and systems interact, using tools such as simulation modeling, remote sensing, spatial statistics, and animated visualizations. Current work explores how carbon dynamics vary from the stand to the landscape, as well as how forest management affects carbon sequestration rates. Other research is examining the role of predators in structuring ecological communities, emphasizing the role of keystone species in community regulation. Still others in the department study bird and insect response to different forest management practices.
Research - Major Advisors/Areas of Focus
- TERRA - PNW
- Pacific Northwest Permanent Study Plot Program
- Landscape Fire and Conservation Science Research Group
- Hardwood Silviculture Cooperative
- H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest and Long-Term Ecological Research Site
- Global Trophic Cascades Program
- Forest Animal Ecology Lab
- Betts Forest Landscape Ecology Lab
The aim of the Pacific Northwest Permanent Study Plot Program (PNW-PSP) is to study and quantify the long-term dynamics of forest vegetation. We manage more than 140 plot installations across a diversity of forest types in Oregon and Washington. These include coastal forests of spruce and hemlock, Douglas-fir-dominated forests of the western Cascades, higher-elevation forests of mountain hemlock and silver fir, and ponderosa pine forests in Central Oregon.
The Laboratory for Applications of Remote Sensing in Ecology (LARSE) is a joint research effort of the USDA Forest Service, PNW Research Station, and the OSU College of Forestry's Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society. LARSE emerged from an array of related remote sensing research projects focused on terrestrial ecology problems.
This activity began in 1989 with a concentration on using digital imagery to characterize forest structure in the Pacific Northwest Douglas-fir/western hemlock zone. Within a few short years, Landsat-based maps of forest structure were being directly incorporated into ecological analyses and models operating at landscape to regional scales. LARSE regularly employs between 10 to 20 scientists in a variety of positions, including permanent staff, post-docs, faculty research assistants, graduate students, student workers, and international scholars. Also, there are a number of full-time scientists not directly supported by the Lab that actively collaborate on LARSE research projects.
We regularly use Landsat to characterize change across the full time series length from 1972-present, with a national focus across all lands and cover types. We were early adopters of lidar data to derive detailed forest structure characteristics, and developed innovative methods for scaling between field measurements and MODIS data using Landsat imagery. Because integration across datasets is the future of remote sensing applications in ecology, an important current focus is complementary blending of lidar, Landsat, MODIS, and other datasets.
Remaining firmly rooted to the ground, LARSE research routinely incorporates field data and our scientists maintain a strong connection to the ecosystems in which they work. Applications include monitoring of natural resources, modeling of carbon flux and biodiversity, and spatially explicit scaling of ecological measurements and knowledge. The scope of activities and data types used continue to expand.
The Landscape Fire and Conservation Science Research Group focuses on landscape ecology, biogeography, pyrogeography, and conservation science. We work at scales from local to global, addressing the causes and effects of ecological disturbances, with a particular interest in landscape fire.
The Hardwood Silviculture Cooperative (HSC) conducts high priority silvicultural research on hardwood species and mixed hardwood/softwood stands in the Pacific Northwest, with the goal of providing information that will improve the management of these stands.
The mission of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest is to support research on forests, streams, and watersheds, and to foster strong collaboration among ecosystem science, education, natural resource management, and the humanities. Located in the western Cascade mountains of Oregon, the 16,000-acre site is administered cooperatively by Oregon State University, the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station, and the Willamette National Forest.
The Andrews Forest has been a US Forest Service Experimental Forest since 1948, and a National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site since 1980. Facilities, including labs, offices, and housing, are available for research and workshop use. Researchers and graduate students interested in conducting work at the Andrews Forest are welcomed and encouraged—participants benefit from a rich data history and from collaborations across disciplines. See the Andrews Forest webpage, http://andrewsforest.oregonstate.edu, for ways to connect. Andrews Forest Facebook. Andrews Forest Newsletter. Andrews Forest webcam.
The Global Trophic Cascades Program is a research and educational program with the purpose of investigating the role of predators in structuring ecological communities. This program puts special emphasis on the role of potential keystone species in top-down community regulation, with linkages to biodiversity via trophic cascades. OSU Distiguished Professor Bill Ripple is the director of the program.
The Forest Animal Ecology Lab is headed by Assistant Professor Jim Rivers. The research questions he pursues are grounded in both basic and applied principles, and nearly all are investigated through empirical field studies of wild populations in forested ecosystems. Some of the lab's current projects include studies that are examining bee community response to biofuel harvest, testing the demographic response of early seral birds to herbicides, and evaluating the impacts of supplemental feeding on the behavior and physiology of songbirds.
Professor Matthew Betts and his team studies the ways that landscape composition and pattern influence animal behavior, species distributions and ecosystem function. As humans are one of the primary drivers of landscape characteristics globally, much of their work is applied and focused on management and conservation. However, understanding mechanisms is key to generalization, so a central part of the research program is basic in nature and links landscape ecology to behavioral ecology, physiology, and molecular ecology.