USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

Logo of the Pacific Northwest Research Station

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

USDA Link Forest Service Link


David L. Peterson

Photo of Dave PetersonDave has a strong focus on applications of scientific knowledge to resource management issues, which is one of his motivations for being a career federal research scientist with the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and U.S. Geological Survey. He studies the effects of environmental stress on forest ecosystems, with emphasis on fire ecology and climatic change. Understanding and managing ecosystems at large spatial and temporal scales is a huge challenge for natural resource management, and most of his research has been focused at these large scales. The ecological scale paradigm is central to nearly all his scientific efforts.

Dave works at the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory, which is part of the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station in Seattle. As Team Leader for the Fire and Environmental Research Applications team, he develops new products and information that assist fire managers in the United States. This work is supported by the National Fire Plan and Joint Fire Science Program, with a focus on improved fire and fuels management on public lands.

In addition to publishing widely in the peer reviewed literature, he develops integrated databases and software that characterize fuels and fire activity, including fuelbed properties, combustion, emissions, air quality, and ecological effects. He recently completed a project that developed quantitative guidelines for modifying forest structure in order to reduce crown fire hazard in forests of the interior West. He continues to work on various aspects of fuels and fire ecology related to fuel treatments.

He is also a principal investigator for the Western Mountain Initiative (WMI), a collaborative effort among research programs to quantify responses of mountain ecosystems to climatic variability and change in the western U.S. For the past 20 years, his research group has employed a combination of empirical studies and modeling to investigate the response of mountain ecosystems to climatic variability and change. Regional-scale research has focused primarily on the ecology of subalpine forest ecosystems, effects of climatic variability on tree growth and regeneration, and fire-climate interactions. Recent research focuses on fire-climate relationships across the western U.S., development of guidelines for hazardous fuel treatment, and adaptation to climate change on federal lands.

Dave serves as Affiliate Professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, and participates in their graduate research and educational programs. Along with Don McKenzie, he directs the Fire and Mountain Ecology Lab in the School, where he works with graduate students, postdocs, and professional staff. Lab research activities are supported by the Forest Service, other federal agencies, and UW Climate Impacts Group.


Curriculum Vitae [.html][.pdf]


If you are interested in employment or graduate research opportunities with the Forest Service Fire Lab or with the UW Fire and Mountain Ecology Lab, please contact Dave via email.  At present, he does not expect to accept new graduate students in 2013.  However, prospective students are welcome to inquire about graduate programs and communicate with current graduate students.

U.S. Forest Service - PNW- FERA
Last Modified: Tuesday, 25 February 2014 at 17:40:52 CST

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.