Magazine article American Forests

Forest Ecologist Robert E. Keane

Magazine article American Forests

Forest Ecologist Robert E. Keane

Article excerpt


AMERICAN FORESTS SCIENCE Advisory Board member Dr. Robert E. Keane is a research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula, Mont. He received his doctorate in forest ecology from the University of Idaho-Moscow. Dr. Keane has researched novel restoration techniques for conserving declining whitebark pine populations in western North America and has developed models predicting the effect of climate change on fire regimes, landscape dynamics and vegetation composition and structure.

Why did you choose to go into forest ecology?

My undergraduate degree was in forest engineering, and after four years of engineering coursework and some summer engineering jobs, it was obvious to me that the engineering way of life wasn't all that appealing to me. However, I did like the forestry part and pursued employment in that area. Right after I graduated, I accepted a job doing research in fire ecology and knew right away that this was my dream job. The noted fire ecologist Steve Arno introduced me to white - bark pine ecosystems in the mid-1980s, and I was hooked like a Montana trout. I guess you could say that the field picked me rather than the opposite.

What is the most surprising thing that you have learned or discovered?

When you're working in whitebark pine, you are always learning something new. Perhaps the most surprising observation was that small seedling and sapling whitebark pine can often be as old as the overstory This is important because many believe that these small trees will release seeds following restoration treatments or wildfire. …

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