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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Alejandro A. Royo

Research Ecologist
335 National Forge Road
United States

Phone: 814-563-1040
Contact Alejandro A. Royo

Current Research

My main research focus investigates the role of the factors that regulate the diversity and abundance of vascular plants in forest understories.  These drivers include natural and anthropogenic disturbances, herbivory, competing vegetation, pests and pathogens, and climate change.  I am involved in multiple projects throughout the United States and Canada asking questions on various subsets of these forces on plant diversity.  These projects range from invasive pests decimating Ash populations, to American chestnut reintroduction efforts, to ungulate impacts on plant communities, to the role climate-adaptive management strategies can play in mitigating climate change effects on forests.

Research Interests

I plan on continuing my research programs on the maintenance of tree and herbaceous species diversity in both temperate hardwood and mixed-wood systems in the tension zone between the temperate hardwoods and boreal systems.

Past Research

Past research had a focus on the maintenance of herbaceous species diversity in both temperate and tropical systems and the role of seed-banking as a mechanism to retain and promote diversity in forests.  A substantial part of my early work was on the role of recalcitrant understory layers inhibiting plant diversity, the impact of soil-borne pathogens on early tree establishment, and forest recovery following catastrophic wind disturbance and salvage logging.

Why This Research is Important

Among the many factors that determine forest understory diversity prior to any overstory disturbance, competition and herbivory are typically thought of as preeminent. Understanding how these two factors, alone and in concert, act to promote or reduce plant diversity is key to the sustainable management of forest resources.


  • University of Pittsburgh, Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 2005
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, M.S. Department of Biological Sciences 1998
  • University of North Carolina, Greensboro, B.A. Department of Biological Sciences 1993
  • University of Pittsburgh, Graduate Certificate Latin American Studies 2005

Professional Organizations

  • Ecological Society of America

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Can We Bank on Forest Seed Banks

Community composition of seeds stored in forest soils becomes increasingly divergent over time


Genetic Information on Ash Informs Treatments for Emerald Ash Borer 

Forest managers can use insecticide treatments to protect ash trees from emerald ash borer to conserve the genetic diversity of ash. But which t ...


Hurricanes Disturb Non-tree Subtropical Wet Forest Species Composition

Hurricane disturbance caused pronounced and persistent changes in the non-tree species composition of a subtropical wet forest. A unique long-te ...


International Symposium Improves Understanding of Disturbance and Salvage Logging and Forest Sustainability

The Forest Service’s Northern Research Station along with the University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History sponsored an ...


Landscape-level Deer Herd Reductions Restore Forest Understory Plant Communities but Not Species Diversity

Since 2001, NRS scientist Alejandro Royo has tracked the response of herbaceous plant communities to deer herd reductions throughout the 70,000- ...


Managing the foodscape to alleviate deer browsing

Forest plant biodiversity is being degraded by browsing from overabundant deer herds, but forest management can alleviate impacts. Research by F ...


Sprouts as Rapid Bioassays of Browse Impact

Effective browse pressure indicators are necessary to adaptively manage forest landscapes with resident deer. Hardwood tree stump sprouts are a ...


Last updated on : 08/26/2021