Integrated Social and Ecological Systems

Explores the issues created by the intersection of natural systems and our society's rapidly evolving needs and brings biophysical and social sciences together to explore complex natural resource issues.

Our researchers study how human values and behaviors drive and respond to changes in natural ecosystems. This includes understanding effective governance and stakeholder engagement processes for making decisions about resource management. Some FES researchers study how to improve communication process among scientists, land managers, and the public. Other researchers analyze forest management policies for their impacts on public lands, private forests, and human communities. These efforts extend from studies of barriers to small urban communities applying green infrastructure to landscape-scale interactions between climate, fire, and forests.


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.

Natural Resources, Tourism, and Recreation (NATURE) Studies Lab

The NATURE Studies Lab conducts a program of research and planning focusing on recreation, tourism, marine and terrestrial parks and protected areas, wildlife, forestry, and other natural resources. The goal of this lab’s work is to examine human elements such as use and impacts, and inform management of natural resources and policy development.

H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest and Long-Term Ecological Research Site

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.

Forests, Livelihoods, Institutions, and Governance (FoLIAGe) Research Group

The FoLIAGe Research Group studies the relationship between forests and livelihoods, and how various governance mechanisms and institutions, including policies, laws, norms, and markets, shape that relationship. Working around the world, we take a multi-level governance approach in our research, from the local scale with community and collaborative forestry, all the way up to the international scale with mechanisms like REDD+ and FLEGT, and how these different scales interact to impact people and forests.

Betts Forest Landscape Ecology Lab

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.