Leaders in forestry research

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A hallmark of our program is our strong emphasis on research. Graduate and undergraduate students are mentored by practicing professors, many of whom conduct research that is world-renowned.

To see how the School of Forestry conducts research in the international community, explore our collaboration with Ghana and our other international study.

NAU Centennial Forest 

Studying forestry at NAU gives you access to the Centennial Forest, which consists of over 40,000 acres of forest, woodland and rangeland located within an easy drive of campus.  The Centennial Forest is managed by the School of Forestry and serves as an authentic field laboratory for both undergraduates and graduate students.

International Research Projects

The School of Forestry's professors are leaders in the international forestry arena. They have been involved in a number of active research projects around the world. Here are some of the examples.

NAU Carbon Flux Research 

This project addresses the impacts of two common forest disturbances, intense forest burning and fuel-reduction thinning, on ecosystem-level carbon sequestration, hydrology, and energy balance of ponderosa pine-dominated forests. 

Bat Ecology & Genetics Lab

Bats are the second most diverse and abundant mammalian order, but probably the least understood due to their cryptic biology. Our Lab uses genetic and genomic approaches to conserve bat species around the world.

Key Initiatives

  • Developing new tools for studying bats
  • Emerging bat diseases and zoonotics
  • Natural and human perturbations (fire, wind energy, mining) that impact bats
  • Focal species for conservation

Ancient DNA Lab

The Ancient DNA Lab provides support for researchers working with ancient, historical, forensice, or other sensitive (low DNA quanitity/quality) genetic samples.

Lab of Conservation Biology and Wildlife Ecology

Interested in conservation or just interested in the way ecosystems work? Explore research that focuses on how vertebrates respond to:

  • landscape pattern
  • vegetation structure
  • fire
  • silvicultural treatments

Forest Ecology Lab

Wildfire, land-use patterns, climate patterns, and climate change all affect forest sustainability around the world. Our research focuses on the interactions in space and time between forest characteristics and disturbance factors in the U.S., Latin America, and the Mediterranean.

Forest Ecophysiology Lab

The current research of Tom Kolb and his collaborators focuses on understanding:

  • Impacts and mechanisms of climate-change driven drought and insect attacks on trees and forests
  • Impacts of forest disturbances and management on forest carbon, water, and energy balances (see Northern Arizona University Carbon Flux Research)
  • Mechanisms that drive forest and woodland ecosystem functions

Google Scholar compilation of Kolb’s publications.

Forest-Rangeland Soil Ecology Lab

Our group focuses on the community and ecosystem ecology of forest and rangeland soils. Our work leans toward the applied in the areas of ecological restoration, assisted plant migration, biodiversity conservation, creative forest product use, and sustainable agriculture. Currently our foci are:

  1. Ecology and restoration of biological soil crusts
  2. Possible roles for soil mosses in post-wildfire restoration.
  3. The role of co-adapted soil organisms in plant response to climate change
  4. Effects of ponderosa pine biochar on water use efficiency and crop production in Arizona
  5. Unique plant communities of the southern Colorado Plateau, and recovery of one of these (Montane grasslands in Bandelier National Monument) after wildfire

Forest Research Institute of Ghana [FORIG] 

To be a global citizen, you need to think globally. Check out how you can learn from the FORIG partnership with NAU, which aims to increase sustainability in the forests of Ghana.  The goal of the partnership is to increase the social, economic, and environmental well-being of Ghana and its people.

Insect Ecology and Management Lab 

Our goal is to better understand species interactions across a multiple taxa within forest communities and apply this understanding to protect natural resources. We take an interdisciplinary approach, using insights drawn from a diverse group of scientists, engineers, artists, specialized technicians, and students.

Quantitative Ecology Lab

Quantitative Ecology is a research lab which focuses on the application of advanced mathematical, computational and statistical tools to any number of problems spanning from modeling population dynamics to quantifying spatial patterns and species interactions.

Silviculture and Applied Forest Health Lab 

Applied forest research leads to sustainable, healthy forests by enabling more informed management decisions. Our goal is to conduct applied research that is readily usable by land managers by providing not only answers to current silviculture and forest health questions, but also guidelines and suggestions for applying research results to management. We also conduct research into topics lacking basic information needed to make informed management decisions.