John Battles

Research Interests
Forest Ecology and Ecosystem Dynamics

Research Description

The goal of my research program is to know how and why forests change. My efforts are guided by the conviction that our understanding must apply to specific forests with all the attendant complexities and idiosyncrasies. Thus robust, quantitative field studies form the core of my approach. Answering these questions is more than just an interesting academic puzzle. As a result of human enterprise (e.g., pollution, land transformations, biotic additions and losses), many forest ecosystems will experience fundamentally novel challenges. In the face of this uncertainty, we need to understand the dynamics well enough to anticipate the likely direction and magnitude of responses.

Change in forests is typically mediated by cycles of disturbance and recovery. A central tenet in forest ecology is that the course and rate of recovery is determined by the extent and intensity of the initiating disturbance. In this sense, the disturbance regime is an integral and relatively predictable aspect of forest dynamics. The increasing prevalence of anthropogenic influences and the prospects for these stresses to interact with natural processes underscore the need to refocus attention from the ordinary to the extraordinary.