Forest Landscape Ecology Lab

Matt Betts is a researcher in forest ecology in FES and head of the Forest Landscape Ecology Lab. He 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 his work is applied and focused on management and conservation. However, understanding mechanisms is key to generalization, so a central part of his research program is basic in nature and links landscape ecology to behavioral ecology, physiology, and molecular ecology. The complexity of ecological systems requires powerful tools that extend beyond ecology into other disciplines - particularly mathematics and computer science. Members of his lab engage actively in such interdisciplinary collaborations.

Recent stories from the lab

Some tropical plants pick the best hummingbirds to pollinate flowers
Rather than just waiting patiently for any pollinator that comes their way to start the next generation of seeds, some plants appear to recognize the best suitors and “turn on” to increase the chance of success. 




Small-Scale Science
Pairing Oregon schoolchildren with the feisty, orange-throated hummers that share their Willamette Valley habitat seemed like a scientific and educational slam-dunk to ornithologist Matt Betts, a researcher in forest ecology at Oregon State University. A few years ago, he spearheaded a project with the Oregon Natural Resources Education program in OSU Extension to bring hummingbird science and fieldwork to classrooms. The project got even richer when he and OSU science educator Kari O’Connell looped in students and teachers from a satellite study site in Costa Rica. 


Threshold for Thriving
Oregon State University graduate student Kristin Jones is spending six days a week in Oregon’s Coast Range conducting field research on the effects of chemicals on the incubating and brooding behavior of northern house wrens. Specifically, she is studying how herbicides affect vegetation and microclimate and, ultimately, care-giving by female wrens.