Geography Lab
at Concord University
Current Projects

Concord University Ecological Research Site

In collaboration with Tom Ford (Biology), we are establishing a permanent ecological research site on the forested grounds of Concord University. The overarching objective of the site is to provide a fixed location for the compilation of ecological data (e.g., soils, vegetation, water, amphibians, birds) over an extended period of time. There is potential, therefore, for the accumulation of multiple decades of data through faculty and student research.

​More to come soon...

Hydrology and vegetation change in a rare bottomland oak swamp

We are examining the disturbance history and successional pathway of pin oak swamps along the Meadow River in Greenbrier County, West Virginia.  Recent large-scale mortality of pin oak has raised questions regarding hydrologic change within the watershed.

Hemlock forest dynamics in southern West Virginia

Across much of its native range, eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is threatened by the invasive forest pest, hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae).  We have established 22 long-term monitoring plots across southern West Virginia to evaluate changes in forest structure and composition over time.  We are also examining hemlock growth-climate relationships across the region.  Research collaborator:  Stockton Maxwell .
Past Projects

Historical fire regimes in the Pennsylvania Anthracite Region​​

I used tree rings and observational fire records to reconstruct wildfire occurence at multiple sites in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  The anthracite coal-producing region provides a unique opportunity to examine the intersection of culture, forest ecology, climate, and wildfire. Research collaborator: Alecea Standlee.

"Professor conducts brush fire survey in Schuylkill"  (Pottsville Republican-Herald; June 8, 2017).

Forest disturbance history in the New River Gorge Region

Human activities, particularly mining and associated fires, are important drivers of forest change in the southern West Virginia coalfield region.   I reconstructed the disturbance history of a pine-oak community at Babcock State Park in Fayette County.  This study expanded on the work of  Maxwell and Hicks (2010)  who examined the fire history of a rimrock pine forest at nearby New River Gorge National River.  The results inform land managers in the greater New River Gorge region, and Central Appalachia in general, of the historical role of disturbance in shaping contemporary forest communities.

Climate, fire, and land use change in Mongolia

For one aspect of my dissertation, I used tree rings (dendrochonology) to reconstruct past wildfire occurrence across the forest-steppe ecotone within the Tuul River watershed in central Mongolia.  More than half of Mongolia's population (~1.8 million people) lives within this watershed, where forests and grasslands are under increasing pressure from economic development and prolonged drought.  Research collaborators:  Amy Hessl Neil Pederson Peter Brown , and Baatarbileg Nachin (National University of Mongolia).

Fire and forest history at Pike Knob, Pendleton County, West Virginia

We used tree rings to reconstruct fire and forest history at Pike Knob Preserve on North Fork Mountain in Pendleton County, WV.  This unique and isolated stand of red pine (Pinus resinosa) is managed by the West Virginia Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.  A nearby ridge is home to the  oldest known table mountain pine (Pinus pungens).  Research collaborators:  Amy Hessl , Tom Schuler, Pete Clark, and Josh Wixom.