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R. Justin DeRose


Research Ecologist

507 - 25th Street
Ogden, UT 84401
Contact R. Justin DeRose

Current Research


1) Developing the Forest Inventory and Analysis tree-ring data set associated with the Interior West States FIA plots for climatic and ecological research
2) Using FIA data for large-scale analyses of important ecological, disturbance and climate-related processes, and to inform forest management
3) Monitor and analyze forest resources in the Interior West (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming [see Map])
4) Using tree-rings to reconstruct past climates, and inform water management through the interdisciplinary Wasatch Dendroclimatology Research Group

Research Interests

1) Climate change effects on forested systems such as spruce beetle prevalence
2) Disturbance ecology, reconstructions, and interactions
3) Forest regeneration ecology (aspen and spruce-fir)
4) The use of novel speciesapproaches, and techniques in tree-ring science
5) Novel applications for the management of forest resilience in the face of climate change
6) Pairing tree-ring data with archaeological and paleoecological data for disturbance detection
7) Production ecology, stand dynamics, and silviculture

Past Research

1) Production ecology, growth efficiency, and silviculture of spruce-fir ecosystems
2) Growth modeling using the Forest Vegetation Simulator to answer ecological questions, carbon sequestration, and to improve FVS model performance
3) Fire behavior modeling to answer questions about aspen ecology, and bark beetle-wildfire disturbance interactions
4) Disturbance ecology and interactions with a focus on Engelmann spruce forests

Why This Research is Important

Resource management is entering an era of increased uncertainty due to climate change, a focus on larger spatial and temporal scales, and rapidly shifting public perceptions of forest management. My research program provides novel interpretations of pressing management issues, such as:
1) how to build resistance and resilience of forests to climate change;
2) analysis of large inventory data sets like FIA to improve and streamline the forest planning process;
3) develop and interpret pre-instrumental climate data to enhance our understanding of past climate processes, but also to inform water management in the arid west.


  • Utah State University, Ph.D., Ecology, 2009
  • University of Maine, M.S., Forestry, 2004
  • Utah State University, B.S., Forestry, 2002
  • Professional Experience

    Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forest Inventory and Analysis
    2011 to present

    Certified Forester, Society of America Foresters
    2007 to present


    Voelker, Steve L.; DeRose, R. Justin; Bekker, Matthew F.; Sriladda, Chalita; Leksungnoen, Nisa; Kjelgren, Roger K., 2018. Anisohydric water use behavior links growing season evaporative demand to ring-width increment in conifers from summer-dry environments
    Morris, Jesse L; Cottrell, Stuart; Fettig, Christopher J; DeRose, R. Justin; Mattor, Katherine M; Carter, Vachel A; Clear, Jennifer; Clement, Jessica; Hansen, Winslow D; Hicke, Jeffrey A; Higuera, Philip E; Seddon, Alistair WR; Seppä, Heikki; Sherriff, Rosemary L; Stednick, John D; Seybold, Steven J, 2018. Bark beetles as agents of change in social-ecological systems
    Stagge, J. H.; Rosenberg, D. E.; DeRose, R. Justin; Rittenour, T. M., 2018. Monthly paleostreamflow reconstruction from annual tree-ring chronologies
    DeRose, R. Justin; Shaw, John D.; Long, James N., 2017. Building the Forest Inventory and Analysis Tree-Ring Data set
    Carter, Vachel A.; Brunelle, Andrea; Minckley, Thomas A.; Shaw, John D.; DeRose, R. Justin; Brewer, Simon, 2017. Climate variability and fire effects on quaking aspen in the central Rocky Mountains, USA
    Thompson, Michael T.; Shaw, John D.; Witt, Christopher; Werstak, Charles E. , Jr.; Amacher, Michael C.; Goeking, Sara A.; DeRose, R. Justin; Morgan, Todd A.; Sorenson, Colin B.; Hayes, Steven W.; Menlove, James S., 2017. Colorado's forest resources, 2004-2013
    Wurtsbaugh, Wayne A.; Miller, Craig; Null, Sarah E.; DeRose, R. Justin; Wilcock, Peter; Hahnenberger, Maura; Howe, Frank; Moore, Johnnie, 2017. Decline of the world's saline lakes
    Sun, Yan; Bekker, Matthew F.; DeRose, R. Justin; Kjelgren, Roger; Wang, S. -Y. Simon, 2017. Statistical treatment for the wet bias in tree-ring chronologies: A case study from the InteriorWest, USA
    Brough, April M.; DeRose, R. Justin; Conner, Mary M.; Long, James N., 2017. Summer-fall home-range fidelity of female elk in northwestern Colorado: Implications for aspen management
    DeRose, R. Justin; Bekker, Matthew F.; Long, James N., 2017. Traumatic resin ducts as indicators of bark beetle outbreaks
    DeRose, R. Justin; Bekker, Matthew F.; Kjelgren, Roger; Buckley, Brendan M.; Speer, James H.; Allen, Eric B., 2016. Dendrochronology of Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma (Torr.) Little)
    Britton, Justin M.; DeRose, R. Justin; Mock, Karen E.; Long, James N., 2016. Herbivory and advance reproduction influence quaking aspen regeneration response to management in southern Utah, USA
    Morris, Jesse L.; Cottrell, Stuart; Fettig, Chris; Hansen, Winslow D.; Sherriff, Rosemary L.; Carter, Vachel A.; Clear, Jennifer L.; Clement, Jessica; DeRose, R. Justin; Hicke, Jeffrey A.; Higuera, Philip E.; Mattor, Katherine M.; Seddon, Alistair W. R.; Sepp, Heikki T.; Stednick, John D.; Seybold, Steven J., 2016. Managing bark beetle impacts on ecosystems and society: Priority questions to motivate future research
    Menlove, James S.; Shaw, John D.; Witt, Christopher; Werstak, Charles E. , Jr.; DeRose, R. Justin; Goeking, Sara A.; Amacher, Michael C.; Morgan, Todd A.; Sorenson, Colin B., 2016. Nevada's forest resources, 2004-2013
    Werstak, Charles E. , Jr.; Shaw, John D.; Goeking, Sara A.; Witt, Christopher; Menlove, James S.; Thompson, Mike T.; DeRose, R. Justin; Amacher, Michael C.; Jovan, Sarah; Morgan, Todd A.; Sorenson, Colin B.; Hayes, Steven W.; McIver, Chelsea P., 2016. Utah's forest resources, 2003-2012
    DeRose, R. Justin; Bekker, M. F.; Wang, S.-Y.; Buckley, B. M.; Kjelgren, R. K.; Bardsley, T.; Rittenour, T. M.; Allen, E. B., 2015. A millennium-length reconstruction of Bear River stream flow, Utah
    Gillies, Robert R.; Chung, Oi-Yu; Simon Wang, S.-Y.; DeRose, R. Justin; Sun, Yan, 2015. Added value from 576 years of tree-ring records in the prediction of the Great Salt Lake level
    Morris, Jesse L.; DeRose, R. Justin; Brunelle, Andrea R., 2015. Long-term landscape changes in a subalpine spruce-fir forest in central Utah, USA
    Zeppenfeld, Thorsten; Svoboda, Miroslav; DeRose, R. Justin; Heurich, Marco; Muller, Jorg; Cizkova, Pavla; Stary, Martin; Bace, Radek; Donato, Daniel C., 2015. Response of mountain Picea abies forests to stand-replacing bark beetle outbreaks: Neighbourhood effects lead to self-replacement
    DeRose, R. Justin; Shaw, John D.; Long, James N., 2015. Spatiotemporal patterns of ring-width variability in the northern interior west
    Bekker, Matthew F.; DeRose, R. Justin; Buckley, Brendan M.; Kjelgren, Roger K.; Gill, Nathan S., 2014. A 576-year Weber River streamflow reconstruction from tree rings for water resource risk assessment in the Wasatch Front, Utah
    DeRose, R. Justin; Wang, Shih-Yu; Buckley, Brendan M.; Bekker, Matthew F., 2014. Tree-ring reconstruction of the level of Great Salt Lake, USA
    Vacchiano, Giorgio; DeRose, R. Justin; Shaw, John D.; Svoboda, Miroslav; Motta, Renzo, 2013. A density management diagram for Norway spruce in the temperate Europe montane region
    Allen, Eric B.; Rittenour, Tammy M.; DeRose, R. Justin; Bekker, Matthew F.; Kjelgren, Roger; Buckley, Brendan M., 2013. A tree-ring based reconstruction of Logan River streamflow, northern Utah
    Morris, Jesse L.; Brunelle, Andrea; DeRose, R. Justin; Seppa, Heikki; Power, Mitchell J.; Carter, Vachel; Bares, Ryan, 2013. Using fire regimes to delineate zones in a high-resolution lake sediment record from the western United States
    Moore, Patrick T.; DeRose, R. Justin; Long, James N.; van Miegroet, Helga., 2012. Using silviculture to influence carbon sequestration in southern Appalachian spruce-fir forests
    Sharik, Terry L.; Adair, William; Baker, Fred A.; Battaglia, Mike A.; Comfort, Emily J.; D'Amato, Anthony W.; Delong, Craig; DeRose, R. Justin; Ducey, Mark J.; Harmon, Mark; Levy, Louise; Logan, Jesse A.; O'Brien, Joseph; Palik, Brian J.; Roberts, Scott D.; Rogers, Paul C.; Shinneman, Douglas J.; Spies, Thomas; Taylor, Sarah L.; Woodall, Christopher; Youngblood, Andrew, 2010. Emerging themes in the ecology and management of North American forests
    DeBlander, Larry T.; Shaw, John D.; Witt, Christopher; Menlove, James S.; Thompson, Michael T.; Morgan, Todd A.; DeRose, R. Justin; Amacher, Michael C., 2010. Utah's forest resources, 2000-2005
    Example of traumatic resin ducts formed during 1997, 1998, and tangentially during 1999, in response to a large spruce beetle outbreak.
    The formation of traumatic resin ducts in Engelmann spruce represents an important induced defense in response to environmental perturbations. The occurrence and strength of resin ducts, in particular traumatic resin ducts, in annually resolved tree rings could be used to reconstruct a tree’s structural damage association with natural disturbances.
    Winter snowpack on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah. Photo by USDA Forest Service.
    Understanding snowpack variability is an important goal of water management, in particular, in the arid west where snow represents a major water storage feature. Snowpack observations in the Intermountain West are sparse and short, making them difficult for use in depicting past variability and extremes.
    Cross section of a dead Utah juniper.
    Annual precision of tree-ring data is often sought for detailed analyses. Important, widespread species such as ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir are often used for tree-ring science. However, there are other low elevation species, oftentimes termed woodland trees that could also be useful, including Utah juniper.
    Western white pine is so named for the light color of its wood. The timber was used for everything from window and door frames to shelving, paneling, and furniture. Photo by Susan McDougall, USDA-NRCS Plants Database.
    A fundamental goal of biogeography is to understand the factors that drive spatial and temporal variability in forest growth across large areas. The Interior West Forest Inventory and Analysis program collected tree-ring data from thousands of plots that can be used to investigate controls on growth variability. Understanding the factors that control growth are important for managing species that could exhibit range shifts in response to climate warming.
    Interior West states showing FIA plots and plots with tree-ring data.
    Tree-ring data collected as part of the Forest Inventory and Analysis program in the Interior West is being assembled into a massive dataset with many tens- of thousands of trees. Given the underlying sampling approach to the Forest Inventory and Analysis grid, the tree-ring data collected can be used for many novel research applications.
    Stand of aspen in decline
    There is considerable interest in the growth and mortality of quaking aspen in the western United States. Looking at the past 10 years of silvicultural treatments to promote aspen regeneration we quantified the factors most influential on subsequent reproduction. Herbivory pressure (domestic and native ungulates) and the presence of advance reproduction best predicted aspen regeneration response.
    Spruce beetles are a native insect that infest spruce forests.
    Scientists from the Rocky Mountain Research Station and Utah State University have modeled the effects of increasing temperatures and forest stand conditions on the likelihood of spruce beetle infestation over time.
    Samples are stored in a climate-controlled facility for future study (photo by Roger Pilkington).
    Tree-ring studies are used for a wide variety of purposes, including the reconstruction of past climate. In 2009, the Interior West Forest Inventory and Analysis program started a project to inventory and archive approximately 11,000 increment cores collected in most of the Interior West states during periodic inventories of the 1980s and 1990s.