The Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station is a leader in the scientific study of natural resources. We generate and communicate impartial knowledge to help people understand and make informed choices about natural resource management and sustainability. The Station has 11 laboratories and research centers in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, as well as 12 active experimental forests, ranges, and watersheds. The PNW Research Station is an integral component of USDA Forest Service Research and Development (R&D), which is the most extensive natural resources research organization in the world. Forest Service R&D is comprised of five regional research stations, the Forest Products Laboratory, and the International Institute of Tropical Forestry.

The Fellow will collaborate with a team of PNW Research Station scientists (Harold Zald, David Bell, and Andrew Gray) to develop a understanding of the status, trends, and vulnerability of subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) forests in the western U.S. Due to their distribution at high elevations and low use for extractive ecosystem services, the status and trends in subalpine fir have received less attention compared to more commercially valuable and accessible species. However, subalpine fir provides critical regulatory and supporting services in high elevation subalpine ecosystems. Recent evidence suggests subalpine fir is experiencing high levels of mortality, but the drivers of this mortality remain unclear. Additionally, climate change is expected to increase temperatures in high elevation ecosystems, increasing the vulnerability of subalpine fir to the invasive balsam wooly adelgid (Adelges piceae) whose expansion into fir forests of western North America is currently believed to be thermally limited. Since the adelgid’s distribution is currently restricted by cold winter temperatures, subalpine fire exposure to the insect may increase as climate warms. The fellow will collaborate with the PNW Research Station team listed above to 1) assess the current status and trends of subalpine fir in the continental U.S. (CONUS) using field data from the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program, 2) quantify disturbance history within CONUS subalpine fir forests using satellite times series imagery and other geospatial data, and 3) develop a vulnerability assessment of subalpine fir forests in the CONUS to balsam wooly adelgid in the context of climate change. Click here for more information.