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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Joseph O'Brien

Project Leader/Research Ecologist
320 Green Street
United States

Phone: 706-461-3372
Contact Joseph O'Brien

Current Research

My research centers on fire science, specifically the spatial interactions among wildland fuels, fire behavior and fire effects. I also am interested in the impacts of fire exclusion on ecosystem function and how to best restore fire into long-unburned fire dependent ecosystems.My research in fire ecology spans the globe with active research in the Caribbean, Central America and Africa.

I am interested in developing new ways of measuring fuels and fire, and in integrating these concepts into understanding ecosystem function and guiding management. For example, my research into spatially and temporally explicit fire behavior measurements led to the development of the concept of “the ecology of fuels” that bridges the gaps between both silviculture and fire management but also fire physics and fire ecology.


Research Interests

My research interests include fire ecology, ecophysiology, forest disturbance, interactions among disturbances, conservation biology and management of rare and endangered species,

Why This Research is Important

Fire has shaped the ecology and evolution of terrestrial ecosystems since they came into existence. Fire remains one of the most important management issues in the United States and the world. However, this critical ecological process has remained poorly studied and often misunderstood. This offers tremendous opportunity for both creating new knowledge and improving fire management,=,


  • Florida International University, Ph.D. Biological Sciences 2001
  • Florida International University, M.S. Biological Sciences 1997
  • State University of New York at Geneseo, B.S. Biology 1986

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


How Fire Maintains Biological Diversity in Fire Dependent Forests

Some forests depend on frequent fire to maintain ecosystem structure and function. However, the mechanisms that drive this relationship are poor ...


QUIC-Fire: A Fast, 3-D Simulation Tool for Prescribed Fire Planning

QUIC-Fire is the first fast-running 3D-coupled fire-atmosphere model that incorporates high-resolution 3D vegetation structure, interactions bet ...


Rethinking how we measure forest fuels for advancing wildland fire science and management

Land managers depend on quality fire research to advance their understanding of wildland fire behavior. Cutting-edge fire behavior models output ...


RxCADRE: Prescribed Fire Combustion-Atmospheric Dynamics Research Experiments

21st Century wildfires are increasing in frequency, intensity and complexity. These trends seem likely to continue in the face of climate change ...


Transforming Fire Ecology

Fire ecology is an essential discipline for guiding effective forest management, but progress in the field has stalled, leaving fire managers wi ...


Last updated on : 09/30/2021