Picture of Prescribed fire - Klamath National Forest
Eric E. Knapp

Research Ecologist
3644 Avtech Parkway
Redding, CA 96002-9241

current research

  • Long-term forest change with recovery from logging in absence of fire, Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest. We are investigating changes to the overstory, understory, and stand spatial structure that have occurred since prior to logging in three recently rediscovered plots from a "Methods of Cutting" study established in 1929. By reconstructing what forests used to look like, we hope to shed light on how historical structure affected biodiversity and resilience to fire.
  • Variable Density Thinning study, Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest. We are evaluating the influence of stand spatial structure and prescribed fire on small mammals, birds, tree regeneration, tree growth, and understory diversity. A new thinning prescription designed to produce a highly diverse structure is being compared with a prescription where trees are thinned more evenly. The ultimate goal is to investigate new means of achieving multiple forest management objectives, from fuel reduction to habitat creation for multiple species.
  • Large tree health following thinning and prescribed fire, Stanislaus-Tuolumne Experimental Forest. Long-term exclusion of fire threatens the long-term health of large pines by allowing new trees to establish that compete with the larger trees for water. The build-up of fuels at the base of these large trees also means that mortality after a prescribed fire may now be substantial. We are investigating how different strategies for reintroducing fire after thinning affects the survival and vigor of large legacy pines.
  • Fire severity patterns in the Klamath Mountains. We are investigating the relative contribution of various topographic, weather, and fuel variables on patterns of fire severity using satellite remote sensing data and statistical models. Our goal is to be able to predict effects to the landscape and habitat to key species, such as the northern spotted owl, of fire burning under different conditions.
  • Variable Retention Salvage study, Blacks Mountain Experimental Forest. We are studying how the volume of removal (amount of salvage or disturbance) after a stand replacing fire affects native and exotic species cover and diversity. Treatments being compared range from 100% of the stand basal salvaged to no salvage, in 25% increments.
  • Fire and Fire Surrogate study - Southern Cascades site, Goosenest Adaptive Management Area, Klamath National Forest. Ecological effects of mechanical thinning with and without prescribed fire are being compared to unthinned plots and plots where fire was introduced without prior mechanical treatment, to determine the extent to which mechanical disturbance can emulate fire.
  • Balancing fuel reduction, soil exposure, and potential for erosion, Lake Tahoe Basin. Pattern of soil exposure is being evaluated for different mastication and prescribed fire treatments under different soil moisture conditions, and the effect of pattern of soil exposure on soil erosion is being tested with erosion simulators. Outside partners: Drs. Andrew Stubblefield and J. Morgan Varner, Humboldt State University.
  • Effect of fire on a rare orchid, Modoc National Forest. Whether Cypripedium montanum can be maintained when fire is reintroduced after a long period of exclusion, and mechanisms by which this and other species survived and/or benefited from fire historically, are being studied using demographic surveys in plots either subject to a prescribed burn or not.

research interest

My current research is focused on forest ecology in relation to disturbance, particularly fire. I am interested in understanding changes that have occurred in the absence of fire and as forests have recovered from past logging disturbance, and the effect of these changes on forest resilience to fire, climate change, and other disturbances. I use historical information from photographs, old vegetation plots, and fire scars as a means of understanding the extent, severity, and frequency of past disturbance, as well as studies of areas with intact or near-intact fire regimes. Both can provide important lessons for the management of our forests today. Other interests include understanding the ecological effects and fire behavior implications of different forest and fuel management practices, the ability of fuel treatments (mechanical and prescribed fire) to emulate natural disturbance, the effect of fire on the habitat of plant and animal species, and the effect of prescribed fire season.

past research

Fire behavior, fire effects, and vegetation recovery after mechanical mastication treatments. Ladder fuels (shrubs and small trees) without commercial value or at the wildland urban interface (WUI) are increasingly being managed by mastication (chipping, with chips dispersed on the forest floor). We evaluated fuel characteristics at ten sites and conducted prescribed burns at two (and in the laboratory) in order to better understand fire behavior, soil heating, and fire effects. Outside partner: Dr. J. Morgan Varner, Humboldt State University. Masticated Fuels Research web page


  • University of California Genetics, emphasis population genetics, plant ecology, plant population biology Ph.D. 1992
  • University of California Agronomy M.S. 1988
  • University of California Biology B.A. 1985


R&D Affiliations