The department is recognized as a national leader for its substantial contribution to research. The department's goal is to identify and resolve important problems in the biology, conservation, management, and use of forest and wildlife resources through basic and applied research, and to disseminate research results to the scientific community, resource-user groups, and the general public. Forest and Wildlife Ecology programs can be separated into several areas:
- Forest Biology: genetics, physiology, ecology and silviculture at the stand, forest and landscape level, including impacts of global climatic change on carbon dynamics, nutrient cycling, wildlife species and communities and related phenomena in forest, grassland and polar ecosystems.
- Forest Management: biometrics, economics, operations research with emphasis on forest sampling theory, growth and yield modeling, artificial intelligence and geographic information systems, and the production, consumption, and trade activities that depend directly on forest resources.
- Landscape Ecology: investigations of spatial patterns and ecological processes to understand the basis of sustainable natural landscapes; ecosystem studies on forest and marine landscapes and modeling of land use and climate change effects, GIS and remote sensing applications, analysis of the effects of management practices and natural disturbances on ecosystems and communities, the influence of landscape-scale factors on wildlife populations, and effects of land use and historical factors on current landscape patterns and ecosystem processes.
- Social Forestry: forest-dependent communities, sociology of natural resources, forest and environmental history, forest and resource policy, park and protected area management, sustainable forestry, human dimensions in ecosystem management, urban forestry, international forestry, and economic development of forests, including non-timber forest products and agroforestry.
- Wildlife Ecology: studies of individual species and species-habitat relationships; rare and endangered species and their conservation and restoration; wildlife damage management, urban wildlife management, youth education, and wildlife-based recreation; game management of native mammals and birds.
- Wildlife Epidemiology: epidemiology and the ecology of wildlife diseases; chronic wasting disease in deer; the demographic patterns of disease prevalence related to age, sex, and harvest susceptibility; determining the routes of transmission of CWD based on social interactions of female and male white-tailed deer; and epidemiological modeling of CWD dynamics
- Wildlife Physiological Ecology: animal energetics and nutritional ecology: relationships between the energy and nutrient requirements of animals and the nutritional value of their food resources that potentially affect diet selection, productivity, and survival;
- Wildlife Toxicology: evaluation of the pollutants, notably halogenated organic compounds and heavy metals, the level of exposure of fish-eating birds and amphibians to these pollutants, and whether the exposure causes physiological and behavioral dysfunction and effects on population biology.
For descriptions of some ongoing research and publications by individual faculty, please visit the lab web pages below.