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Bullard Spotlight: Anthony D'Amato and the Forest that Follows a Hurricane

Tuesday, October 14, 2014
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Anthony D'Amato, Associate Professor of Silviculture and Applied Forest Ecology at the University of Minnesota - and a Harvard Bullard Fellow this year - first came to the Forest nearly 15 years ago as an undergraduate intern in our Summer Research Program.

He says his choice to pursue a Bullard Fellowship this year was both professional and personal: "The Harvard Forest has been a constant source of inspiration for my career, and returning has allowed me to connect to the people and landscapes that make this such an amazing place to conduct forest ecology research."

D'Amato's Bullard Fellowship has focused on synthesizing long-term data from the Harvard Forest Pisgah Tract to determine the influence of large, infrequent, stand-replacing disturbance events on the long-term compositional and structural development of hemlock-white pine systems. These events leave a long legacy, says D'Amato. "A stand-replacing wind event like the 1938 Hurricane continues to shape the degree of structural and compositional complexity found in this forest 75 years later."

The old-growth condition of the Pisgah Tract prior to the 1938 Hurricane, and the lack of subsequent salvage logging following the storm, provided D'Amato and others a rare opportunity to document the long-term influence of this level of disturbance on critical forest ecosystem components and processes, including ecosystem carbon pools and downed coarse woody debris.

Given the predicted increases in the frequency and intensity of wind events in response to climate change, D'Amato's work will provide valuable empirical information for modeling efforts aimed at predicting future forest conditions under different climate change scenarios. The research will also help land managers assess the long-term implications of salvage efforts associated with major storm events. 

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