US Forest Service Research & Development
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  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Me 2020

Ben Rau

Research Hydrologist
Route 219 North, Nursery Bottom
P.O. Box 404
West Virginia
United States

Contact Ben Rau

Current Research

  • Quantifying carbon emissions from fire and exotic annual grass invasion in sagebrush-steppe and Pinyon-juniper woodlands

  • Testing BMP effectiveness to remove nitrogen from shallow groundwater and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in intensively managed biomass production systems

  • Quantify the long-term impacts of forest management, climate change, and environmental policy on water quantity and quality in the Central Appalachians (Fernow Experimental Forest)

Research Interests

  • Nutrient management to increase productivity, improve soil and water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Biogeochemical cycling of Carbon and Nitrogen in managed and un-managed ecosystems.

  • Understanding the impacts of climate change, vegetation, and land management on in-stream flows and water quality in headwater streams.

Past Research

  • Quantify the effects of prescribed fire and fire surrogate treatments on soil nutrients and vegetation response to treatments.

  • Quantify the factors that make sagebrush-steppe and pinyon-juniper woodland resilient to disturbance and resistant to exotic annual grass invasion.

  • Quantify nitrogen uptake and biomss accumulation in intensively managed Loblolly pine plantations.

Why This Research is Important

Forest, rangeland, and agro-ecological systems provide clean water, food, and fiber that are essential to human health, a robust economy, and national security. They also serve an irreplaceable role in the global carbon cycle which regulates Earth’s climate, making it habitable.

We live in a world dominated by anthropogenic influence over our environment and with an ever-increasing pressure on natural resources. Understanding the links between climate, hydrology, soils, vegetation, and management is crucial for continued access to clean water, food, and fiber, and for stabilizing our climate.

My research focuses on long-term data collection, experimental manipulation, and modeling to better understand the links between the biotic and abiotic systems that drive ecosystem services and sustain our quality of life.


  • University of Nevada - Reno, Ph.D. Hydrology, Soil Science, and System Ecology 2009
  • University of Nevada - Reno, M.S. Hydrology, Soil Science, and System Ecology 2005
  • University of Nevada - Reno, B.S. General Biology and Ecology Minor in Chemistry 2000

Professional Experience

  • Research Hydrologist, USFS Northern Research Station, Timber and Watershed Research Lab
    2020 - Current
  • Supervisory Ecologist, USGS New England Water Science Center
    2019 - 2020
  • Research Ecologist, USFS Southern Research Station, Savannah River Forestry Sciences Laboratory
    2014 - 2018
  • Post Doctoral Research Soil Scientist, USDA Agricultural Research Service
    2011 - 2014
  • Hydrologist, USFS Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
    2010 - 2011
  • Soil Scientist / Hydrologist Trainee (SCEP), USFS Flathead and Plumas National Forests
    2003 - 2009
  • Graduate Research Assistant, University of Nevada - Reno
    2001 - 2009
  • Biological Sciences Technician (STEP), USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, Great Basin Ecology Laboratory
    2000 - 2001


Citations of non US Forest Service Publications

  • Levine, C.R., R.D. Yanai, M.A. Vadeboncoeur, S.P. Hamburg, A.M. Melvin, C.L. Goodale, B.M. Rau, and D.W. Johnson. 2012. Assessing the suitability of rotary cores for sampling in rocky soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 76(5):1707-1718
  • Johnson, D.W., R.F. Walker, M. McNulty, B.M. Rau and W.W. Miller. 2012. The long-term effects of wildfire and post-fire vegetation on Sierra Nevada forest soils. Forests. 3(2):398-416
  • Johnson, D.W., J.D. Murphy, B.M. Rau and W.W. Miller. 2011. Subsurface carbon contents: Some case studies in forest soils. Forest Science. 57(1):3-10

Last updated on : 11/09/2021