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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Kristen Pelz profile photo.

Kristen A. Pelz

240 W. Prospect Rd.
Fort Collins
United States

Phone: 970-498-1226
Contact Kristen A. Pelz

Current Research

Kristen’s work focuses on applying forest inventory information to inform management that will increases ecosystem resilience (the ability of a system to recover its characteristic functions) to natural and human-caused stressors. She has pursued research on how natural disturbances, current and past management practices, and climate change interact to affect forest structure and function in the interior western US.

Why This Research is Important

Land management that emulates natural disturbances is one of the best ways to ensure overall ecosystem health and the reliability of services valuable to society (such as water delivery, carbon sequestration, and forage production). Fire, bark beetles, and other disturbances affect components of landscapes across multiple scales in ways that are often important but not immediately obvious. In the past, when we have managed for one resource (such as timber production) at the expense of others we have often suppressed natural disturbances (such as fire) and there have been unintended negative consequences (such as increased homogeneity of forest conditions and susceptibility to growth of insect outbreaks).

Though we may know what disturbance types have shaped deserts, woodlands, and forests in the past, we often do not understand the sometimes subtle ways these disturbances vary with climate, topography, or species composition. We also do not fully understand how other stresses associated with climate change or invasive species will impact the recovery of systems following disturbance. Therefore it is critical to understand how disturbance scales, frequencies, and effects differ among landscapes and interact with on-the-ground conditions for management to avoid unintended consequences in the future.


  • Colorado State University, Ph.D. Ecology 2014
  • Colorado State University, M.S. Forest Science 2011
  • Middlebury College, B.A. Geography, Environmental Studies 2006

Professional Experience

  • Ecologist, USDA Forest Service, White River National Forest
    2016 - 2017
  • Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station
    2015 - 2016
  • Research Associate, Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, Colorado State University
    2013 - 2015
  • GIS Technician, Online Communications Manager, Trout Unlimited
    2007 - 2009
  • Forester, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Interior West Forest Inventory and Analysis
    2017 -

Professional Organizations

  • Ecological Society of America (2011 - Current)
  • Association for Fire Ecology (2010 - Current)
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF) (2010 - Current)

Featured Publications & Products


Citations of non US Forest Service Publications

  • Dickinson, Y.L., Pelz, K.A., Giles, E., Howie, J. 2016. Have we been successful? Monitoring horizontal forest complexity for forest restoration projects. Restoration Ecology 24: 8-17
  • Shepperd, W.D., F.W. Smith, and K.A. Pelz. 2015. Group clearfell harvest can promote regeneration of aspen forests affected by sudden aspen decline in western Colorado. Forest Science 61:932-937
  • Pelz, K.A., and Y.D. Dickenson. 2014. Monitoring forest cover spatial patterns with aerial imagery: A tutorial. Technical Brief  CFRI-TB-1401. Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, Colorado State University,  Fort Collins, CO. 47 p
  • Pelz, K.A., and  F.W. Smith. 2013. How will aspen respond to mountain pine beetle? A review of literature and discussion of knowledge gaps. Forest Ecology and Management 299: 60-69
  • Pelz, K.A., and  F.W. Smith. 2012. Thirty year change in lodgepole and lodgepole/mixed conifer forest structure following 1980s mountain pine beetle outbreak in western Colorado, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 280: 93-102
  • Cheng, A.S., K.A. Pelz, J.M. Clement, A. Bucknam, and M. Keralis. 2010. Mixed-conifer forests in Southwestern Colorado: a summary of existing knowledge and considerations for restoration and management.  Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, Colorado State University. Fort Collins, CO. 33 p

Last updated on : 07/01/2020