Picture of Natalie van Doorn
Natalie S. van Doorn

Research Urban Ecologist
800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
510-883-8856
natalie.vandoorn@usda.gov

current research

My research spans multiple systems, from the forests of the Northeastern US to the street tree populations in our cities. My overarching research question is: what drives changes in urban and wildland forests? To address this, I utilize and contribute to long-term data sets on tree demography, forest biomass, and spatially-explicit tree growth.

Current studies include:

- Urban tree database and allometric equations
- Climate-ready trees for Southern California communities
- Street tree demography in Claremont and Santa Monica, California
- Structure, function and value of street trees in California

- Understanding neighborhood effects on forest growth and tree competition in a temperate forest
- Demography of decline, disturbance and recovery in a northern hardwood forest
- Best practices and quantified error rates for long-term tagged-tree inventories

research interest

- urban forest resilience
- multiple disturbances
- neighborhood dynamics of forest ecosystems
- tree demography
- dendroecology
- long-term data

past research

I graduated with a PhD in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the Forest Ecology & Ecosystem Dynamics Lab at UC Berkeley. The title of my dissertation is “Patterns and process of forest growth: the role of neighborhood dynamics and tree demography in a northern hardwood forest”. The sustainability of the northern hardwood forest is threatened by disturbances and perturbations including chronic air pollution, invasive pests, and rare catastrophic events. Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF) in New Hampshire is a prime example of a forest experiencing multiple environmental stressors with serious but subtle impacts. Long-term studies at HBEF have documented a decline in forest biomass accumulation that seems to be the result of reduced growth of the dominant tree species: sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) and beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.). Previous studies have linked soil calcium depletion resulting from acidic deposition to reduced health in sugar maple. In addition, the spread of the exotic scale insect, Cryptococcus fagisuga Lind., that produces bark cankering has reduced growth rates in beech trees. Each of these perturbations may influence species competitive hierarchies. My dissertation focused on teasing apart these complex competitive interactions in relation to tree growth and examines the role of chronic acid deposition and an ice storm on demographic processes that affect forest productivity. In addition, I synthesized best practices for evaluating changes in forest dynamics through tagged-tree inventories.

Education

  • University of California at Berkeley Environmental Science, Policy and Managament Ph.D. 2014
  • University of California at Berkeley Environmental Science, Policy and Management M.S. 2007
  • University of California at Berkeley Resource Management (emphasis in forestry) B.S. 2004

Professional Organizations

  • International Association for Landscape Ecology Member (2017 - Current)
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF) Member (2003 - Current)

Featured Publications & Products

Publications

Priority Research Areas

  • Climate Change
  • Forest Disturbances
  • Urban Natural Resources Stewardship