What do you enjoy most about studying forests?
Forests contribute the majority of terrestrial ecosystem functions, including essential ecosystem services that sustain human societies and provision of habitat for biodiversity. Most of these ecosystem functions and services ultimately derive from forest structure—the physical structure of live and dead trees, including soil organic matter originating from fallen tree leaves, stems, and branches. Thus, in many ways, understanding and conserving forest ecosystems starts with foundational data on tree demography: tree recruitment, growth, and death, including causes of tree mortality.
How does citizen science support your research?
Citizen scientists support our work in two important ways. The first is obvious—helping make the core field observations and measurements upon which our data and all downstream scientific findings depend. Because our measurements are time sensitive, and there is so much to do, without engagement from citizen scientists our projects would grind to a halt. When citizen scientists return home from the field they become science ambassadors. By sharing stories from the field, they help educate others about the important functions forests perform, and how scientific discoveries are made. This may ultimately be the most important way citizen scientists support our research, and the advancement of science in general.
What is one of your favorite moments in the field?
Every time I find edible mushrooms!