MISSOULA – An international, peer-reviewed forestry journal recently published the results of research conducted by a class of students in the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation – an accomplishment typically reserved for professors and researchers.
Forest Ecology and Management published the paper, “Historical spatial patterns and contemporary tree mortality in dry mixed-conifer forests,” co-authored by graduate students Kate A. Clyatt, Justin S. Crotteau, Michael S. Schaedel and Haley Wiggins and recent undergraduate alumnus Harold Kelley. UM forest ecology Associate Professor Andrew Larson also contributed to the article, which is in the Feb. 1, 2016, edition of the journal and is online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112715006076.
“It’s certainly not common for students to produce published peer-reviewed research in a class,” Larson said. “This demonstrates how the College of Forestry and Conservation is a leader in bringing research and real-world applications into the classroom.”
Last fall, the five students in Larson’s advanced forestry class analyzed historical reconstructions of forest spatial structure across six plots and then measured tree mortality rates. Their analysis provided information about small-scale habitat variation in old-growth forests across the Northern Rockies. Their research also found that old-growth ponderosa pine mortality rates are very low — less than 1 percent per year, suggesting that these Montana forests have not yet experienced the increase in mortality seen at other sites across the West. The results of the research could help forest managers design forest restoration and climate change-adaptation treatments.
“Collaborating on such an instrumental and applied project has been an incredible experience for all of us,” Clyatt said. “I think the willingness of professors like Andrew Larson to take students under their wing and provide these exciting opportunities is one of the forestry program’s greatest strengths.”
Chris Keyes, a UM research professor of silviculture, advises master’s student Clyatt and doctoral candidate Crotteau. Larson advises Schaedel, a master’s student. Wiggins is earning a master’s degree in resource conservation under the guidance of restoration ecology Associate Professor Cara Nelson.