US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Brian J. Palik

Research Ecologist
1831 Hwy 169 East
Grand Rapids
United States

Phone: 218-326-7116
Contact Brian J. Palik

Current Research

My research has two central themes:

  • Ecological linkages between upland forests and small streams and wetlands
  • Understanding spatial and temporal development of structural complexity and its consequences in forests
  • Both of these themes are addressed primarily through use of operational-scale management experiments designed to be statistically robust, realistic, but also novel in terms of the treatments examined, and inclusive of a large number of response variables. Much of this work is accomplished through close collaboration with university and agency researchers from across the region. My particular research foci include questions related to plant biodiversity and community composition, tree regeneration dynamics, and aboveground productivity. I am interested in tradeoffs between productivity (biomass, volume) and sustainability of other ecological characteristics (e.g., native species diversity and habitat). Ultimately, my interest is in developing and evaluating silvicultural and management approaches that sustain ecological complexity in forests managed for wood production.

    Research Interests

  • Development/refinement of stand-scale forest dynamics models that are robust at predicting growth and yield, structural development, composition, etc., in multi-cohort, mixed species stands.
  • Collaboration with others from across the Northern Station in an effort to develop a comprehensive regional synthesis of results from our respective long-term silvicultural research.
  • A cross-regional, multi-location experiment that tests fundamental ideas of silvicultural approaches for optimizing productivity of wood and restoration of stand-scale structural complexity.
  • Quantification of response curves that relate amount of stand-scale structural features (e.g., snags, old trees, down logs, rare tree species abundance) to ecological indicators of native biological diversity (e.g., songbird abundance, species richness).
  • Why This Research is Important

    Understanding forest ecosystem responses to disturbance is key to developing the knowledge and tools needed to sustain ecological and economic objectives in managed ecosystems and landscapes. Many ecologists believe that sustainability is achieved by using natural disturbance and stand development processes as guides for management approaches. The goal is not to mimic nature directly, or even to closely emulate it. Rather the goal is to develop management approaches that reduce disparities between natural and managed systems in structure, composition, and function. While many organizations are attempting to develop natural disturbance and stand development-based management prescriptions, they have little practical experience in doing so, nor are the research findings available to guide their attempts. My work, particularly through use of operational-scale experiments that involve managers, provides this experience and knowledge.


    • Michigan State University, Department of Forestry, Ph.D. Forest Ecology. 1992
    • Michigan State University, Department of Botany, M.S. Plant Ecology. 1988
    • Alma College, B.S. Biology. 1983
    • Costa Rica, Organization for Tropical Studies, Additional Study Tropical Ecology 1987

    Professional Experience

    • Adjunct Faculty, University of Minnesota
    • Adjunct Faculty, Iowa State University
    • Adjunct Faculty, Michigan Technological University
    • Adjunct Faculty, Lakehead University

    Professional Organizations

    • Society of American Foresters, Forest Guild
    • Minnesota Forest Resources Council
    • Society of American Foresters (2009 - 2011)
    • Natural Resources Research Institute, University of Minnesota
    • National Experimental Forest (2003 - 2009)
    • Ecology, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Peer Reviewer
    • Journal of Ecology, Peer Reviewer
    • American Midland Naturalist, Peer Reviewer
    • Journal of Vegetation Science, Peer Reviewer
    • Biotropica, Peer Reviewer
    • Forest Ecology and Management, Peer Reviewer
    • Journal of Forest Research, Peer Reviewer
    • Plant Ecology Forest Science, Peer Reviewer
    • Conservation Ecology, Peer Reviewer
    • Landscape Ecology, Peer Reviewer
    • Forest, Snow, and Landscape Research, Peer Reviewer
    • Journal of Forestry, Peer Reviewer
    • Journal of Biogeography, Peer Reviewer
    • Northwest Science, Peer Reviewer
    • New Forests, Peer Reviewer
    • USDA Competitive Grants, Peer Reviewer
    • NSF Competitive Grants, Peer Reviewer
    • British Columbia Forest Service Competitive Grants, Peer Review

    Featured Publications & Products


    Research Highlights


    Adapting Black Ash Wetlands to Emerald Ash Borer and Climate Change

    Black ash is a foundational species in the vast wetland forests of the upper Midwest. Loss of black ash from emerald ash borer will profoundly c ...


    Assisted Migration of Replacement Tree Species in Black Ash Wetlands

    Black ash is a foundational species of deciduous wetland forests in the western Great Lakes region because of its considerable influence on wetl ...


    Building Forests That are Adapted to Drought

    Climate change models predict increased summer droughts throughout much of the United States. Forest Service scientists are showing that silvicu ...


    Diversity is Key to Restoring Resilience of Iconic Great Lakes Pine Forests

    Mixed-pine forests of the western Great Lakes region contain fewer tree species and fewer age classes than their historical equivalents. Forest ...


    Ecological Limits to Biomass Harvesting

    Removing forest biomass for fuel can provide an alternative to fossil fuels and may mitigate atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, but it may ch ...


    Ecosystem Impacts of Wood Harvests For Biofuel

    Current interest in harvesting typically non-merchantable material for biofuel warrants a closer look at the ecosystem impacts of intensive harv ...


    Restoring Forest Landscapes

    An estimated 1 billion acres of globally degraded forest are in need of restoration today and climate change likely will drive more acres into t ...


    The Future of Ash Forests in Minnesota

    Ash forests of the Great Lakes region are vulnerable to emerald ash borer (EAB) and climate change. Forest Service scientists are successfully e ...


    Last updated on : 10/18/2018