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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Todd Ristau

Todd Ristau

Research Ecologist / Director's Representative
335 National Forge Road
P.O. Box 267
United States

Phone: 814-563-1055
Fax: 814-563-1048
Contact Todd Ristau

Current Research

  • Influence of nitrogen deposition changes on black cherry seed production and seedling development in a changing environment following the reduced nitrate and sulfate emissions and deposition.
  • Recognizing silvicultural problems and opportunities during the early stem exclusion phase of stand development including competition and use of treatments such as herbicides and fertilizers to enhance seedling development.
  • Long term changes in old growth forests of the Allegheny Plateau region with focus on Hearts Content, Cook Forest and Tionesta Natural Area.
  • Enhancement of regeneration guidelines for northern hardwood forests, especially as related to herbicide and fertilizer use.

Research Interests

  • I am interested in how both woody and herbaceous plant communities respond to disturbances.
  • I am interested in understanding the conditions that result in monoculture following overstory removal and how to apply existing or novel silvicultural techniques to prevent monoculture and promote mixed species regeneration.
  • I am interested in how unmanaged old growth forests differ from or are similar to managed second growth forests in terms of  both woody and herbaceous species composition following disturbances.
  • I work to develop guidelines for forest management that are used in the SILVAH system of stand inventory, analysis and prescription used by many foresters in the northcentral and northeastern states use as a tool for forest management.

Why This Research is Important

Our mission is to enhance the basic understanding of Allegheny Plateau forest ecosystems while developing resource management guidelines. Understanding how management activities alter the herbaceous plant community in stands under a variety of management strategies is critical to the practice of ecosystem management. Understanding the competitive ability of species like black birch, black cherry, and pin cherry are important. Understanding establishment requirements and creating conditions favorable for a variety of species to become established where they are best suited is critical to achieving our mission goals.


  • The State University of New York, College of Env. Sci. and For., Ph.D. Plant Ecology 2010
  • The Pennsylvania State University, M.S. Forest Science 1997
  • Houghton College, B.S. Biology 1991

Professional Organizations

  • Ecological Society of America (1995 - Present)
  • Torrey Botanical Society (1998 - Present)
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF) (1995 - Present)

Featured Publications & Products


Research Highlights


Black cherry regeneration difficulties: Are They Related to Stand Age or Something Else?

Forest managers report that black cherry regeneration is impeded by poor and erratic seed production. Tree stand age has been suggested as one o ...


Changes in Black Cherry on the Allegheny Plateau

Increased tree mortality, decreased seed production, and seedling growth. Managers and scientists have been observing these changes in black che ...


Fine-tuning Herbicide Prescriptions in Northern Hardwood Forests

Fine-tuning existing herbicide prescriptions leads to better results for forest managers and landowners.


Long-Term Differences in Forests With Different Deer Densities

Thirty years after a study on the effects of deer on forest ecosystems established new forest stands at deer densities ranging from 10 to 64 dee ...


Pennsylvania Regeneration Study Assesses Overstory and Understory Tree Species Communities

In 2001, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Forest Service's Forest Inventory & Analysis (FIA) program launched the "Pennsylvania Regeneration ...


Scientists Study Long-term Response of Ground Beetle Communities to an Operational Herbicide Application

Ground beetles comprise a large and diverse group of mostly predatory beetles that have long been recognized as a useful barometer of ecosystem ...


Using fertilizer to promote diverse seedling development in Allegheny hardwood forests

Fertilizing the forest understory slows the development of dominance by sweet birch, favors development of black cherry following overstory remo ...


Last updated on : 02/27/2021