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Scientists & Staff

Laura Kenefic

Laura Kenefic

Research Forester
Center for Research on Ecosystem Change
686 Government Road
Bradley, Maine 04411
Phone: 207-581-2794

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Current Research

  • Ecology and Silviculture of Mixed-Species Stands - Recent and ongoing projects include short- and long-term dynamics of multi-aged stands (with a focus on selection, diameter-limit, and other forms of partial cutting), rehabilitation of degraded stands, regeneration substrates and dynamics, stand and sub-stand structure, and relationships between forest management and understory vegetation. Many of these projects are in collaboration with University of Maine faculty and graduate students. Much of my work is on the Penobscot Experimental Forest in Maine, but I also conduct research on the Dukes Experimental Forest in Michigan and in cooperation with a number of large landowners and Northern Forest managers. My research addresses the northern conifer (hemlock - spruce - fir) and northern hardwood (beech - birch - maple) forest types.
  • Sustainability - I am a principal investigator in a cross-border study of northern white-cedar ecology and silviculture, in collaboration with the University of Maine, Laval University (Quebec), the Canadian Forest Service, and the Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources. I also have been working with University of Maine and NRS colleagues on studies of soil-site-growth relationships, the long-term effects of harvesting on site productivity, the role of site in determining sub-stand-level variation in silvicultural outcomes, and residual stand and regeneration implications of mechanized partial harvesting.
  • Pioneering Studies - In addition to my current studies on experimental forests, I have been investigating the history of Forest Service research in the northern conifer forest, including experiments on the now-closed Gale River, Finch-Pruyn, and Paul Smith EFs. I am working with University of Maine cooperators and Forest Service colleagues to re-analyze, re-establish, and re-open these and other historical Forest Service studies where possible, and am in the process of archiving a number of long-term experimental forest datasets for online access.

Research Interests

In addition to ongoing studies, I would like to expand my research in the areas of rehabilitation of degraded stands; ecology and silviculture of northern white-cedar, and networking and synthesis of long-term silvicultural experiments such as those on experimental forests.

Why This Research is Important

The forests of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada are structurally and compositionally complex, and recent trends in forest management have been toward silvicultural systems that maintain or increase complexity of structure and species. However, the dynamics of mixed-species and multi-aged stands are incompletely understood, and information about ecosystem response to management in both the short- and long-term is needed. I am using current studies, as well as archived data and intact plots from early Forest Service research, to address problems of contemporary forest management. Additionally, focus on potentially at-risk components of complex ecosystems and forests degraded by past mismanagement is important. Long-term sustainability of the northern white-cedar resource, for example, is a concern due to widespread problems with regeneration and recruitment and the advanced age of the managed resource in many regions. My research contributes both to effective forest management and long-term forest sustainability.


  • University of Maine, Ph.D. Forest Resources, 2000
  • State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, M.S. Forest Resource Management, 1995
  • State University of New York at Binghamton, B.A. Environmental Studies, 1992

Professional Organizations

  • Ecological Society of America, Member (1999 - Current)
  • Society of American Foresters, Member (1995 - Current)
  • Experimental Forest and Range Working Group, Northern Research Station Representative (2009 - 2012)
  • New England Society of American Foresters, Forest Science Coordinator (2004 - 2006)

Awards & Recognition

  • Molly Beattie Young Forester Leadership Award, 2006
    New England Society of American Foresters award for leadership benefiting the practice of forestry.
  • Early Career Scientist Award, 2005
    U.S. Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station award.
  • Multicultural Achievement Award, 2004
    U.S. Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station and Northeastern Area, Civil Rights Committee award for efforts to support women in forestry.

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Earth Camps Connect Students to Nature (2013)
The University of Maine's first high school forest resource camps, a partnership with the Forest Service's Northern Research Station, attracted 34 students from diverse demographic groups across the Northeast. Students explored natural resource management and ecology issues, and learned about potential fields of study and career opportunities.

New Management Guide Offers Strategies for Northern White-Cedar (2012)
Guide contains newly discovered and proven management strategies for one of the least-studied commercially important North American tree species

Last updated on : 21-Jan-2016