DeRose Silviculture and Applied Forest Ecology Lab
Department of Wildland Resources
Forest Ecosystem Dynamics
Our research is focused on forest ecosystem dynamics, the complex interplay between climatic variability and change, disturbances, and subsequent patterns/processes of vegetation demographics. We utilize a combination of basic and applied research approaches to understand the controls on disturbance-climate-vegetation interactions, and from this develop silvicultural and management tools for contemporary land management and decision-making. Specifically, we seek to better understanding forests stand dynamics—the interplay of tree- and stand-level growth—in order to improve models of growth forecasting and to build better forest management tools. This research approach relies on tree-ring science, which is a powerful way to reconstruct past disturbances and quantify growth dynamics, and we also work across multiple spatial and temporal scales that range from local and regional studies with intensive sampling, to broader regional and national analyses that incorporate massive data sets, such as the National Forest Inventory and Analysis Program.
Climate change adaptation
Our research is also focused on building the adaptive capacity of forested systems in response to climate change. This is an important science-management paradigm that seeks to better integrate what we know about climate change, disturbance ecology, and patterns of vegetation response, to better prepare forests for the future. In the lab we explore the role of disturbance dynamics, the mechanisms underpinning tree species distributions, regeneration response to climate, and changing growth dynamics over stand development, in the context of global change-type drought. We promulgate conceptual ideas regarding resistance and resilience of particular forested systems to specific disturbances.
Our research specifically uses tree-ring data to better understand and document past climatic variability and extremes. We specialize in developing tree-ring chronologies for traditionally difficult-to-work-with tree such as Utah juniper. Tree-ring data helps us understand the top-down climatic control (i.e., teleconnections) on disturbance regimes (e.g., fire severity and frequency, bark beetle outbreaks), and patterns of vegetation growth response on the landscape. We employ extensive grids of tree-ring data to explain spatiotemporal patterns of growth and climatic variability. Our lab has developed multiple, multi-century and millennial reconstructions of climatic variability in the Utah region that have been important for: 1) placing current water management in a historical perspective; 2) providing climatic context for archaeological data, and; 3) implicating climatic variability as a driver of ancient population demographics.