MORA in the Trees

MORA in the Trees
Mt. Rainier through a variable retention harvest at Pack Forest, Washington, USA

Friday, June 27, 2014

M.S Research Assistantship in Redwood Forest Ecology - Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA

Here's a cool job/grad school position that I'm reposting for a friend:

Early Career Ecologists' own Sarah Bisbing is looking for a qualified individual to fill a masters level position at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California, USA.

Position: I am seeking a highly motivated, independent M.S. student to join my new Forest Ecology & Silviculture lab at California Polytechnic State University ( One graduate research assistantship is available to support research on regeneration dynamics and stand development of coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) following exposure to interacting disturbances (e.g. silvicultural treatment, wildfire, etc.). This study is designed to provide insight into this species’ response to novel conditions and susceptibility to climate change. Field research will occur across the
species’ range, from the Oregon border south to Big Sur, California. There is flexibility in the pursuit of research questions, and the successful applicant can build on the funded study by developing and implementing an independent thesis research project. Qualifications: Applicants should have an excellent academic record, a strong interest in forest and landscape ecology, and a desire to improve quantitative and writing skills. Student must be willing and able to conduct extensive fieldwork in difficult terrain and train technicians in field techniques and sampling protocols. Preference will be given to students with a strong ecological background and prior field/research experience.
You can study these...but probably smaller versions.

Support Package: A research stipend and tuition are available for a 2-year program, contingent on satisfactory performance and degree progress. Research support and potential housing may also be available for summer fieldwork through Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch ( Anticipated start date of January 2015.

How to Apply: To apply, please send (1) a letter of interest, including: research interests, career goals, and relevant past experiences; (2) a resume or CV; (3) GRE scores; (4) unofficial academic transcripts; and (5) contact telephone numbers and email addresses for three references. Submit application materials as a single pdf file to Dr. Sarah Bisbing at Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Sarah M. Bisbing, PhD
Assistant Professor, Silviculture & Forest Ecology

NRES Department
California Polytechnic State University
1 Grand Ave
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
805-756-2721 (office)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The return of field season: a month in photos

Big days, big cow skull.

Friday night willows.

The rare cool days.

Beaver-induced, cattle-modified.

ET-AL and UDWR personnel, Joe Wheaton, Elijah Portugal and Kent Sorenson talk shop on river character and behavior.

Good light where Utah drains to the Snake River.

Snow in June.

Field gurus Logan and Marco sample the colonel's recipe in Idaho...they've travelled every road in this here land. It's no Bakersfield, CA.

I-84, Oregon

Five points, Grande Ronde Basin, OR

Break lines and Ponderosa pines.

Tent village in Cove, OR

Friday, June 13, 2014

June update: publications, posters and travel

I just returned from a 12-days of training for the Columbia Habitat Monitoring Program in Cove, OR, where my field colleagues and I got all trained up for the 2014 field campaign. Before that, I was presenting my work and doing some other professional service at the Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting in Portland, OR. Both the SWS undergraduate mentoring program and the technical sessions were fantastic. Per normal, it was great to see my colleagues from across the SWS-Pacific Northwest region. By the way, the PNW chapter has a new website and it's pretty slick. The SWS Restoration section put on their second annual session and it went off without a hitch. Thanks to all of the 2014 participants for giving talks and Andy Herb for helping to coordinate! I gave a poster on instream wood in the PIBO and CHaMP programs. It was great to get feedback on my projects. The poster is online at Figshare:

CHaMP camp in the Grande Ronde basin - surveying to build digital elevation models of streams.

During all the travel and hustle, a couple research items came up and out. First, my collaboration with my ET-AL colleague Alan Kasprak, and colleagues from my time at the USFS, Brett Roper and Christy Meredith, came out in Riparian Ecology and Conservation. The article went live last week and I'm proud to say that it's my first open-access publication. We got some great reviews and the publication process, while not extremely fast, was professional, constructive and relatively painless. I think the revisions we made based on reviewer feedback really improved the final product and I greatly appreciate the time the three reviewers and Dr. Jon Harding, our handling editor took to give professional and constructive feedback. The article, in short, looks at how climate, disturbance and stream physical setting influence the accumulation of large wood in wadeable streams of the American Pacific Northwest. We found that as climate and disturbance shape vegetation composition, these capability of the riparian ecosystem to grow and contribute wood to channels is changed. We identified the indicator species that correspond to high, moderate and low instream wood, and found that not surprisingly, hot, dry climates with grazing impacts don't generally grow trees. We conclude that stream management and restoration scenarios cannot assume that wood, while a keystone geomorphic driver of aquatic habitat formation, will naturally occur. Accordingly, in unforested reaches managers should consider other processes, like beaver reintroduction, when trying to change instream hydraulic and hydrologic diversity to increase habitat diversity.

This manuscript is freely-available as a pdf at Riparian Ecology and Conservation
Additionally, some relatively long-term work that my former UW colleague, Rodney Pond and I have done in North Cascades National Park is coming out in Ecological Restoration this September. We received proofs, and have made a pre-print version available over at figshare. You can find it here and below. I'll do a quick write-up on the paper when it comes out in the journal issue.

Hopefully I'll find the time for some more blogging amid data collection, finishing existing projects and getting ready for some delayed qualifying exams.

Updated publications page links!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The always ascending UW Restoration Ecology Network @UW_CoEnv

When I moved to Seattle and eventually transferred into the University of Washington, I did so with a vague knowledge of some of the programs that UW had. First I tried to transfer into biology, then fisheries and then forestry, but none of those departments would take my transfer credits from a regional school in Ohio. The Program on the Environment (POE), an interdisciplinary environmental studies program that was then housed within the College of Arts and Sciences, would however take those transfer credits as I worked towards a BA in environmental studies (disclaimer: mileage may vary with your own transfer credits). POE also sponsored a multi-year curriculum in restoration ecology and ecological restoration, the Restoration Ecology Network. Within POE, that was the program that caught my eye - after all, it had field courses, classroom learning, real-world doing, all while working within a larger network of students, agencies, and community partners.

Successional management in the UBNA - 2009

While I could speak to the diversity of courses I took within UW-REN (pronounced yoo - wrenn), or the awesome students, community partners, and restoration practitioners that I met, a budget-weary Washington State doesn't want to hear the touchy-feely. They want to hear the results that most funding bodies do: students graduated, jobs created, acres restored, dollars under budget and days ahead of schedule. Before I mention those items though, for the record, my now wife and I became good friends working on UW-REN projects and courses and it set us both up for our current positions in the world. While in UW-REN, I received a skill set that would lead me down a road of travel, adventure, research and friendship while being public service-minded, and gainfully employed.

My UW-REN internship led to a paid position working on a forest restoration project on the fringe of North Bend, WA. This job, and the BA I earned concurrent with it would eventually allow me to enter graduate school in the UW College of Environmental and Forest Sciences. I was based out of the Center for Urban Horticulture, where I worked almost weekly in the Union Bay Natural Area, formerly a freshwater marsh at the confluence of two streams that entered Lake Washington. When the Lake was drained to link Lakes Union and Washington, Lake Washington was lowered several meters, and the swamp was used as a landfill. This is what the Union Bay Natural area looked like in 1964 prior to reclamation and restoration.

 Later, the landfill was capped and since the 1990s has been a living laboratory for the restoration of mixed lowland forests, oak woodland, prairie, and wetlands. It was these early restoration experiments that exposed me to the scientific research surrounding restoration. I was able to do and learn how to do science around these restoration projects, visiting them years after completion to see if the early results persisted moving forward. UW-REN and the Union Bay Natural Area were my seam to get up field, start moving professionally and score some points. The trees at my 2006-era ESRM 473 project are now 30-feet tall, and I've worked with CUH students and faculty to publish three scientific papers on the Union Bay Natural Area, all while leading hundreds of volunteers for thousands of combined person-hours maintaining restoration projects.
Kern Ewing and the workhorses of the UBNA and UW-REN - students! Image courtesy of the Seattle Times.

In short, UW-REN succeeded. I was very fortunate to have been a part of this experiment in education, ecological restoration, and community building. Fortunately, this experiment is ongoing with hundreds of acres of projects on the ground and courses, including the popular capstone series, still being offered at UW. Some of these restoration projects were more successful than others, but all of them linked students to the real world and real problem-solving.

Kern wields a mean blackberry (Rubus armeniacus)

This weekend, Kern Ewing, longtime UW-REN leader on the UW-Seattle campus, received another glowing media review, this time for his work in the Yesler Swamp on the north side of the Union Bay Natural Area. The Seattle Times details his work in the Yesler Swamp, a forested swamp at the bottom of Yesler Creek, a historic timber floating stream in Lake Washington. This project is a culmination of many years of both formal (UW-REN) and guerrilla (Saturday morning UBNA volunteers) restoration. It also shows the longevity and dedication of Kern and his colleagues in UW-REN.

Quercus garryana in a restoration area in the UBNA

Kern's pride and joy has been the UW-REN for the last decade, and now, there is a generation of professionals who have been trained by UW-REN. These individuals practice the art and science of restoring degraded ecosystems from the Chesapeake Bay to UW's backyard in Puget Sound. Any press that UW-REN  receives is well deserved. It's great to see the program still working with the UW Botanic Gardens, multiple academic units and UW campuses to create a culture of earth stewardship and applied land restoration. On a personal level, I'm forever grateful for Kern and UW-REN for setting me on my current career trajectory and fostering an enthusiasm and fascination with degraded and natural ecosystems and their similarities and changes over time. Thanks UW-REN and thanks Kern. Kee p on, keepin' on.

Good things afoot in the E-5 wetlands, circa 2010

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Utah's water year as May approaches

Here in northern Utah we've been living a charmed life this water year, as the snowpack hovers close to 90 inches in the Bear River Range at ~8500 feet in elevation. While I'm still going skiing tomorrow, southern Utah has not been so fortunate. The water is just starting to come off the hills across the state, but the above map does not bode well for thirsty urban areas and agricultural producers. 

The outlook for environmental flows, while hard to predict, is also looking rough. After a controlled flood in the Grand Canyon last year, it appears that the timing was good because the water and the sediment it moved, were both there and available thanks to fall rain. This year the Colorado system will need a big monsoon season to keep the Paria River flowing enough to stack up sediment and do the geomorphic work that creates the instream and riparian habitats the Colorado is known for. Fortunately, the Colorado River headwaters look a little bit better than the Green River does. 

My fingers are crossed for Utah and Colorado...even though the Wellsville Range looks good for late April....

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Society of American Foresters Intermountain Talk

Last week, I was fortunate enough to give a talk for the Society of American Foresters Intermountain chapter meeting here in Logan, UT. Thanks to the USU Forest Club for organizing the meeting and to the great presenters who gave excellent talks: Kendall Becker, Justing Britton, Curtis Gray, and Scott Frost.

I uploaded the slides that I gave to Figshare:

Friday, April 4, 2014

Closing out the @USU_Ecology Speaker Series for 2013-14

Later this month, the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies' Dr. Kathleen Weathers will deliver the final Utah State University Ecology Center seminars of the 2013-14 speaker series.

Dr. Weathers' visit will cap off another tremendous year of influential ecologists coming to Logan, insightful research talks, and community events at Utah State. This speaker series is almost entirely organized and implemented by USU graduate students with the help of Nancy Huntly, Ecology Center staff and ecology faculty. The success of the series is truly a testament to the commitment of the Ecology Center students and director Nancy Huntly to attract leading ecologists to Logan to engage with the larger ecological research community. My hat is off to USU grad students Andy Kleinhesselink (WILD) and Lexine Long (WATS) for spearheading last year's committee. Much gratitude should also be levied to the numerous speakers who get off the beaten path and come to Logan to present their work and meet with students and faculty.

Last month the new speaker series committee met to select speakers for 2014-15, and after making a few calls, it looks to be another great year. While plans are still being finalized, it appears that USU will be visited by Jeremy Fox, Mary Ruckleshaus, Jon Moore, Jim Grace, Hope Jahren, Tom Hobbs, Diana Wall and Bob Holt during the 2014-15 seminar series.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The 2014 Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting (@2014JASM #JASM2014 @SWS_org)

This May 18-23, I'll be headed to Portland, Oregon for the Society of Wetland Scientists et al. mega conference that has been dubbed the Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting. It should be an awesome time, and I'll be busy working on a variety of things while there.

First, I'll be giving a poster on some work I've done modeling instream large wood abundance in the Columbia River basin. This is a synthetic effort that builds on some projects I've done for the USDA Forest Service PACFISH/INFISH Biological Opinion and the Columbia Habitat Monitoring Program. I'll be discussing two papers we've written and a wood capacity model that we're building to set restoration objectives and assess restoration outcomes. It should be a good time.

Secondly, I'm working with Andy Herb and Rob McInnes of the Society of Wetland Scientists' Restoration Section to put together another symposium for the SWS restoration section.

Lastly, this will serve as the election setting for the Society of Wetland Scientists Pacific Northwest Chapter. This year, I'll be running for president of the chapter following a year and a half long stint as the chapter's executive vice president. If you're reading this from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or a Pacific Northwest border state (CA, NV, UT, WY, MT, AK or British Columbia), please link up with the chapter and get in touch in Portland.

Check out the Joint Aquatic Sciences Meeting website and follow them on Twitter and we'll see you on the Willamette this May!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Restoring the West 2014 - Down by the River: Managing for Resilient Riparian Corridors

The annual Restoring the West conference will take place October 21st and 22nd, 2014 at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. This year, the conference is themed : Down by the River: Managing for Resilient Riparian Corridors.

Fire...down by the river: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Washington State, USA
We have confirmed one of our keynote speakers and are currently awaiting confirmation from numerous speakers. The Restoring the West committee will daylight the entire program as it becomes available sometime later this spring or summer.

Keep your eyes posted to for updates as they happen.

I promise that while the conference title may conjure up images of the popular Saturday Night Live skit (below), the invitee list will rock your socks off.