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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Julian (Morgan) Varner

Julian (Morgan) Varner

Research Biological Scientist
400 N 34th St., Suite 201
United States

Phone: 206-732-7889
Contact Julian (Morgan) Varner

Curriculum vitae (242 KB PDF)

Current Research

My primary research areas are post-fire tree mortality, fire-adapted plant traits, characterizing fuels treatments, fire and pest interactions, and the impediments to prescribed fire. I am investigating the consequences of reintroducing fire to fire-excluded forests and woodlands of the Pacific Northwest (oak woodlands and mixed-conifer forests), California (pine and mixed-conifer forests), and the Southeast (longleaf pine and remnant grasslands). I am investigating the traits (bark, flammable litter, architecture) that allow plants to persist in fire-prone environments. Due to their recent expansions, we have been investigating the consequences of non-native (Sudden Oak Death) and native (bark beetles) pest outbreaks on fire behavior and effects. In spite of its effectiveness, prescribed fire is underutilized across many fire-prone landscapes; my research is focused on identifying and overcoming those hurdles.

Research Interests

My research group investigates topics spanning the spectrum from fire ecology to fire behavior. Our primary interests are in responses of vegetation to fire in grasslands, savannas, woodlands, and forests. We have on-going research in the Pacific Northwest and California in oak woodlands, mixed-conifer forests, pine woodlands, and coast redwood forests and in the Southeast in longleaf pine ecosystems, Appalachian oak-pine forests, remnant Black Belt prairies, and oak-hickory woodlands in Mississippi. A major area of our investigations continues to be the consequences of mastication on fuels, fire behavior, and vegetation response. An overarching theme of our program is working collaboratively with land managers to solve their problems.

Past Research

For the past 15 years, my research group has tackled issues related fires and vegetation. We have used large-scale field campaigns, small manipulative laboratory studies, modeling, and surveys across a variety of fire-prone landscapes in the western and southern US. We have investigated surface, ground, and canopy fuels and fires. Our most recent work has focused on the causes and consequences of fire-caused tree death and the outcomes of restoration fires, plant flammability, the consequences of mastication and other fuels treatments, and how pests influence fire.

Why This Research is Important

Wildfires are increasing pressures on federal, state, and private forests, woodlands, and savannas across North America. Our research has enabled fire and forest managers to adapt prescribed burning and fuels treatments to better restore resilience to future global change and to improve biodiversity conservation in managed landscapes.


  • University of Florida, Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Ecology Fire Ecology 2005
  • Auburn University, M.S. Forestry Forest Ecology 2000
  • University of Idaho, B.S. Forest Resources Ecosystem Management 1997

Professional Experience

  • Team Leader and Research Biological Scientist, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station
    2016 - Current
  • Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech
    2014 - 2016
  • Assistant Professor, Mississippi State University
    2012 - 2014
  • Associate Professor and Director, Wildland Fire Laboratory, Humboldt State University
    2004 - 2012


Research Highlights


Fire in the wake of sudden oak death

Study predicts future flammability in plant communities where tanoak has been killed by sudden oak death.


Last updated on : 07/12/2019