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Faculty Profile David Peterson

David PetersonAlthough he grew up a long way from mountains, Dave Peterson says they have long been a source of inspiration in his life and career. "Mountains were in short supply in the Chicago area where I grew up," says Dave, "but the time I spent in Midwestern forests and a family trip to the Rockies helped create a lifelong love of the study of nature. I pretty much knew since I was 14 years old what I wanted to do professionally-and I've been lucky to be able to pursue that dream."

Dave joined the CFR faculty in 1989 and is currently Professor in the Ecosystem Sciences Division. A career federal scientist, he directs Cascadia Field Station, a unit of the U.S. Geological Survey's Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center. Formerly associated with the National Park Service, this CFR unit was the first research group ever established by that agency.

In 1980, Dave received a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois, where he studied nutrient cycling in hardwood forests. With degrees in zoology, botany, and forestry, he had broad academic training for a career in ecology.

His first job was fire ecologist with the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station Fire Lab in Riverside, CA. "Moving to California was a real adventure for a provincial Midwesterner," says Dave. "To make it even more interesting, I was hired to direct research in fire ecology even though I knew absolutely nothing about the topic." But he did learn about fire, establishing research projects on the effects of fire on tree growth and mortality in California, the northern Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest. In 1985, a reorganization transferred him to another research unit at the lab with a main focus on the effects of air pollution on forests-another topic he knew nothing about. "Making these transitions to different research topics was frustrating at times," says Dave, "but it really forced me to stretch intellectually. I was fortunate to have some outstanding mentors like Tom Mills and Paul Miller and am greatly indebted to them for their guidance early in my career." His studies on tropospheric ozone in mixed conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada provided the first evidence that this air pollutant had reduced the growth of ponderosa pine and Jeffrey pine.

In another transition, Dave was hired by what was then the Cooperative Park Studies Unit, housed in CFR, to establish a research program on global climate change for the National Park Service. Says Dave, "For a forest ecologist, working in a leading forestry school in the Pacific Northwest was a great opportunity." Dave's research on climate change has focused primarily on national parks in the Pacific Northwest, with emphasis on subalpine forests. "I had read most of the forest ecology literature on Pacific Northwest forests before coming to the UW," says Dave, "but was surprised to find that there had been very little research on high-elevation forest ecosystems. I like to think our lab has become a leader in mountain ecology over the past decade." Throughout his career he has used dendrochronology (tree-ring analysis) to study the effects of various environmental factors on tree growth, and this continues to be the tool of choice for many of his lab's studies. A new research program called Climate-Landscape Interactions on a Mountain Ecosystem Transect (CLIMET) focuses on the effects of climatic variability in Olympic, North Cascades, and Glacier National Parks and employs a wide range of ecological analyses including geospatial analysis and modeling.

Says Dave, "It has been exciting and rewarding to see our research program on climate change evolve over the past decade. Climate change is in the news every week. Our current group of students, postdocs, and staff is a dynamic and productive team, and we are learning amazing things about mountain ecosystems and how they respond to climatic variability." The team is currently studying interactions of climate with tree growth, productivity, species distribution and abundance, and fire disturbance across the three-park transect. This mini-network of sites at the same latitude, but with different climatic regimes, provides a framework for broad regional inferences about how climate affects natural resources in the Northwest.

Dave has published three books in the past five years to go along with his more than 130 scientific publications. His most recent book, Ecological Scale, published in 1998 by Columbia University Press, contains a broad range of theory and applications of scale concepts in the ecological sciences. Other books include Human Ecology and Climate Change (1995) and The Role of Restoration in Ecosystem Management (1996). Dave was formerly Editor-in-Chief for the journal Northwest Science, and currently serves on the Board of Editors for Ecological Applications. He teaches a graduate-level course in forest conservation biology and lectures in many classes at CFR and UW.

What lies ahead? "I hope we can continue to build our climate-change program and get a better understanding of how mountain ecosystems might change in the future," Dave says. "I also hope we can interpret our scientific findings in such a way that resource managers, decision makers, and the general public can understand them." His work as co-chair of the Validation Monitoring Panel for the Olympic Natural Resources Center demonstrated that scientific concepts can be effectively conveyed to a broad audience. At a recent conference in Olympia, the panel presented a bold new approach for monitoring salmon populations, beyond simply restoring habitat, that will be needed to measure the effectiveness of society's enormous investment in salmon conservation.

In his personal life, Dave enjoys hiking, nordic and alpine skiing, organic gardening, and bonsai. He and his wife Linda, a painter, spend as much time as possible in the mountains where they share their mutual scientific and artistic interests in Northwest landscapes. In addition to attending school events with 16-year old daughter Christina, much of their spare time these days is spent on restoration and reforestation of their tree farm in Skagit County, WA.

Faculty News

Jim Agee gave the keynote address-"Burning Biological Issues"-at the Fire 2000 conference in San Diego, CA on November 27, 2000. One thousand fire ecologist and fire management professionals from around the world attended the conference. Jim is currently working on an interpretive trail project at Ecola State Park through the Oregon Forest Resources Institute. Ecola State Park is located at Tillamook Head, where Lewis and Clark hiked to the coast from Fort Clatsop-"their hangout in 1805-06," says Jim. "As part of the project, we found buried forest layers that date sometime prior to 45,000 years before the present and are likely 70,000-123,000 years old-now there's some ancient forests! My previous record for old forest was 800 years, but I don't think I'll top this new record."

Bruce Bare spoke on forest certification at the 17th Annual International Forest Products Marketing Conference in SeaTac, WA, on November 13-14, 2000. He, along with Jerry Franklin, Bruce Larson, Bruce Lippke, Chad Oliver, and Kristiina Vogt also spoke on forest certification at the Symposium on Certification of Washington State Forestlands, sponsored by CFR, in Seattle, WA, on November 9, 2000.

Paul Boardman gave a presentation on September 26, 2000 before the Canadian Senate Subcommittee on Forestry and Forest Products Trade (Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry). Paul spoke on Japanese regulatory and demographic challenges facing North American exports. The subcommittee was visiting the U.S. to examine the trade, economic, and marketing challenges facing the Canadian softwood lumber industry.

Toby Bradshaw was cited in an October 9, 2000 Seattle Times article entitled "Some say poplars are eco-marvels." See http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/exis/web/vortex/display?slug=pulp09m&date=20001009&query=poplars. Toby is also a member of the scientific planning committee for an upcoming conference, "Tree Biotechnology in the Next Millenium."

Dale Cole received an award at the November 2000 annual meeting of the Soil Science Society of America in Minneapolis, MN, where he presented the S.A. Wilde Lecture. The lecture will also be published in the Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J.

Jerry Franklin was cited in a September 27, 2000 article in The Seattle Times entitled "Conservancy aims to buy watersheds in Willapa Hills."

Kevin Hodgson reports that his Autumn Quarter PSE 483 (Paper Coating and Converting) class visited the West Linn Paper Company mill in West Linn, OR on Friday, December 1, 2000. The students were given a full tour of the mill by West Linn engineering staff. The mill produces high grade coated "woodfree" papers for use in bulk advertising and catalogs, using three machines to produce approximately 550 tons per day.

Bruce Lippke gave a presentation on September 26, 2000 before the Canadian Senate Subcommittee on Forestry and Forest Products Trade (Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry). Bruce briefed the subcommittee on the state of the Pacific Northwest forest products industry and the impact of regulations on the industry. On November 8, 2000 Bruce participated in a speakers panel at a League of Women Voters of Washington luncheon with the theme "A Delicate Balance: Trees and Schools."

John Marzluff was featured in an October 18, 2000 article in The Seattle Press entitled "UW Research Strictly for the Crows."

Dorothy Paun reports the publication of "Potential for Expanding the Small-Diameter Timber Market: Assessing the Use of Wood Posts in Highway Applications," Madison, WI: USDA Forest Service, co-authored with Gerry Jackson.

Sarah Reichard spoke on invasive species at a recent symposium on Sustainable Landscaping in Maine and at an October 2000 USDA/APHIS workshop in Raleigh, NC. Sarah reports that the Washington Rare Plant Care and Conservation program has a new project manager, Laura Zybas, who will be working primarily on the development and management of a program to assist agencies in monitoring rare plant populations.

Kathy Wolf was an invited speaker at several events in October and November, 2000. She spoke at the Oklahoma State Urban Forestry Conference, at a regional meeting of the Columbia Basin Urban Forestry Council and at the Georgia State Community Forestry Annual Meeting. Presentation topics included the psycho-social benefits of urban forestry, a survey of her current research on public perceptions of urban ecology, and economic aspects of green infrastructure in cities.

Robert Van Pelt led a two-day hiking and camping trip, September 8-9, 2000, exploring the remaining old growth forests that surround Mount St. Helens in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. This program is one of a series initiated by the newly formed Mount St. Helens Institute.

John Wott attended the annual meeting of the International Plant Propagators' Society, Eastern Region, October 1-4, 2000, in Chicago, IL. He also participated in a two-week tour that visited public gardens, nurseries, and garden centers from Toronto, Canada, Cleveland, OH, Chicago, IL, and throughout southern MI. John continues as the executive director of the 3,000-member international organization, a position he has held since 1986.

Faculty Reports

Phil Hurvitz conducted a training session for the USGS in Bozeman, MT in early December 2000. Attended by several data development partners in the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (http://www.rockies.ca/y2y/), the session was a technical introduction to NSDI/FGDC/NBII geospatial metadata clearinghouse server management. The Clearinghouse provides a central point to search for worldwide databases of geospatial data. It is a subset of the Internet on which standardized descriptions of spatially referenced data sets are stored, and where searchable Web-enabled database interfaces can be found.

Phil says "I've been the technical administrator of the Washington state node (wa-node.gis.washington.edu) of the NSDI clearinghouse (www.fgdc.gov/clearinghouse) for the last three years. The Washington state node also hosts the sub-nodes for both the ONRC Geospatial Data Clearinghouse (http://cathedral.cfr.washington.edu/~chouse/) and the USGS-FRESC Cascadia Field Station (http://www.cfr.washington.edu/research.usgs/cascadia/).

After the training session, I visited Yellowstone National Park where wildlife sightings included bison, eagles, elk, and coyotes."


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