Scientists & Staff
Research Technician and Site Superintendant
Climate, Fire, and Carbon Cycle Sciences
P.O. Box 251
New Lisbon, New Jersey 08064
As lead research technician and site superintendent at the Silas Little Experimental Forest, my work involves providing a range of technical support for the the Northern Research Station's Climate, Fire, and Carbon Cycle Sciences projects based in the New Jersey Pinelands. These studies are typically focused on the development of techniques to quantify physical and functional impacts of forest disturbances, such as those caused by wildfire and invasive insect outbreaks, and analyze long-term and spatial variability of forest change. Current studies I am involved with include:
-Monitoring recovery of ecosystem function following gypsy-moth caterpillar defoliations
-Long-term monitoring of ecosystem carbon flux with eddy covariance towers and long-term forest census plots
-Evaluation of treatment effectiveness at reducing hazardous fuels
-Assessment of seasonal variation in pitch pine foliage flammability
-Calibration of Landsat imagery to monitor temporal and spatial variation in fire effects in the New Jersey Pinelands
-Development of allometric equations for pitch pine
-Monitoring of hazardous fuel production and vegetation regeneration in stands heavily impacted by southern pine beetle outbreaks
-Assessment of wildfire ember production and ember transport
-Wildland fire effects and risk mitigation
-Remote sensing using LiDAR and Landsat imagery
-Forest fluxes and cycles
Before working for the US Forest Service I worked as a technician in the Rutgers Urban Forestry lab in New Brunswick, New Jersey on research related to tree function and structure in urban settings. My primary focus while in the lab was to conduct a study using MRI imaging software to process sequential imagery of branch cross-sections to quantify decay in urban trees from standard hazard reduction pruning cuts. I also assisted the lab in comparing birch samara sizes, using spatial analysis software to measure variation in samara surface area at sites with varying degrees of heavy metal contamination.
Why This Research is Important
Studying the effects of disturbances on forests is critically important as climate change, pest outbreaks, and disease increasingly impact the ecological benefits, natural resources, and climate moderating values that our forests provide. By conducting studies that improve our ability to rapidly quantify change in forests and forest function, we are able to inform forest managers and landscape planners of how to best triage and address forest health problems, understand long term tragectories for forest health and function under contrasting management and disturbance scenarios, and adapt their current management strategies to most efficiently manage our forests for sustained ecosystem service and natural resource benefits under challenging future scenarios.
- New Jersey Forestry Association, Member (2013 - Current)
- Society of American Foresters, Committee Member (2013 - Current)
- Ecological Society of America, Student Member (2011 - Current)
- International Association of Wildland Fire, Student Member (2011 - Current)
Featured Publications & Products
- Skowronski, Nicholas S.; Clark, Kenneth L.; Gallagher, Michael; Birdsey, Richard A.; Hom, John L. 2014. Airborne laser scanner-assisted estimation of aboveground biomass change in a temperate oak-pine forest. Remote Sensing of Environment. 151: 166-174.
- Mueller, Eric; Skowronski, Nicholas; Simeoni, Albert; Clark, Kenneth; Kremens, Robert; Mell, William; Gallagher, Michael; Thomas, Jan; Filkov, Alexander; Houssami, Mohamad El; Hom, John; Butler, Bret. 2014. Fuel treatment effectiveness in reducing fire intensity and spread rate - An experimental overview. In: Wade, Dale D.; Fox, Rebekah L., eds; Robinson, Mikel L., comp. Proceedings of 4th Fire Behavior and Fuels Conference; 18-22 February 2013, Raleigh, NC; and 1-4 July 2013, St. Petersburg, Russia. Missoula, MT: International Association of Wildland Fire. p. 360-362.
- Kiefer, Michael T.; Heilman, Warren E.; Zhong, Shiyuan; Charney, Joseph J.; Bian, Xindi; Skowronski, Nicholas S.; Hom, John L.; Clark, Kenneth L.; Patterson, Matthew; Gallagher, Michael R. 2014. Multiscale simulation of a prescribed fire event in the New Jersey Pine Barrens using ARPS-CANOPY. Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. 53: 793-812.
- Clark, Kenneth L.; Skowronski, Nicholas; Gallagher, Michael; Renninger, Hedi; Schafer, Karina. 2012. Effects of invasive insects and fire on energy exchange and evapotranspiration in the New Jersey pine lands. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 166-167: 50-61.
- Kiefer, Michael T.; Heilman, Warren E.; Zhong, Shiyuan; Charney, Joseph J.; Bian, X.; Shadbolt, Ryan P.; Hom, John; Clark, Kenneth; Skowronski, Nicholas; Gallagher, Michael; Patterson, Matthew. 2011. Development of a fine scale smoke dispersion modeling system. Part II: Case study of a prescribed burn in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. In: Ninth symposium on fire and forest meteorology; 17-20 October 2011; Palm Springs, CA. Boston, MA: American Meteorological Society. 5 p. .
Publications & Products
- Clark, Kenneth L.; Skowronski, Nicholas; Gallagher, Michael. 2015. Fire management and carbon sequestration in Pine Barren Forests. Journal of Sustainable Forestry. 34(1-2): 125-146.
- Clark, K.L.; Skowronski, N.S.; Gallagher, M.R.; Renninger, H.; Schäfer, K.V.R. 2014. Contrasting effects of invasive insects and fire on ecosystem water use efficiency. Biogeosciences. 11(23): 6509-6523.
- Clark, Kenneth L.; Skowronski, Nicholas; Gallagher, Michael. 2014. The fire research program at the Silas Little Experimental Forest, New Lisbon, New Jersey. In: Hayes, D.C.; Stout, S.L.; Crawford, R.H.; Hoover, A.P., eds. USDA Forest Service experimental forests and ranges research for the long term. New York, NY: Springer: 515-534. Chapter 22.
National Research Highlights
Fireflux Experiments Improve Safety of Prescribed Burns in the New Jersey Pine Barrens (2011)
Predicting the effects of smoke from low-intensity prescribed fires on local air-quality is being made easier by new tools developed by Forest Service scientists. These tools are now being validated through data collected from fuels, meteorological, and air quality monitoring networks set up near and within prescribed fires in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The tools and observational data from this project help fire and forest managers in planning for prescribed burns to minimize adverse air-quality impacts in the vicinity of the burns.