My current research is centered on the Nevada woodlands portion of a Joint Fire Sciences Program funded study, Fire and Fire Surrogates for Restoring Sagebrush Ecosystems (www.sagestep.org), the largest study JFSP has funded. this project is investigating procedures for treating these expansion woodlands and restoring the affected sagebrush ecosystems. the results from this study are providing the most comprehensive, region wide, information on the competitive interactions and ecosystem dynamics for sagebrush and woodland ecosystems for the region. A second focus is the completion of 20 years of paleoecolgical studies of Great Basin Ecosystems using plant macrofossils from woodrat middens to track past vegatation and climate changes over the last 10,000 to 30,000 years. Results are helping to improve our understanding of the patterns and preocesses behind the more recent vegetation changes, and also to provide insite into the potential for future vegetation changes, and their implications, that may result from plant species responses to future Great Basin climate change.
My research interests are centered around the ecology and management of vegetation changes in the Great Basin that have occurred historically, and over longer periods of time. I am also interested in modeling the growth and dynamics of individual plants, and of plant communities as self-organized systems to better understand the ecosystem dynamics of the Great Basin, particularly in response to climate change.
For over 100 years major changes have been underway in Great Basin ecosystems that represent major problems for managers. Long-term studies of Great Basin vegetation dynamics have shown just how complex these systems are, and have shown the need for the implimentation of detailed studies to develop suitable treatment and management procedures for ecosystems in the Great Basin. Research results to date have provided information that is widely used by BLM and Forest Service mamagement personal in the Great Basin to meet these management needs.
My interest in the vegetation dynamics of the Great Basin began in 1970 with my Master's reaearch evaluating the use of pinyon/juniper chainings as a mule deer winter range habitat improvement procedure. Woodland expansion over the twentieth century has been rapidly degrading, and even eliminating, large areas of wildlife habitat and livestock forage, and most of the procedures so far used to try to treat the problem, including chaining, have not worked particularly well. My past and present research are focused on the obtaining a much better understanding of the complexity of Great Basin and its ecosystems, climate, and history, and their interactions over time that is needed to more effectively manage this region.