Scientists & Staff

Daniel C. Dey

Project Leader / Research Forester
202 ABNR Bldg., University of Missouri-Columbia
Columbia, MO, 65211-7260
Phone: 573-875-5341 x225

Contact Daniel C. Dey


Current Research

My research focuses on evaluating silvicultural practices to manage forests that produce the wide array ofgoods and services that land owners and society desire. I specialize in solving forest regeneration issues inhardwood-dominated forests in both uplands and bottomlands. Much of my experience is in the naturalregeneration and development of hardwood-dominated forests and in the afforestation of bottomlandagricultural lands. I have done extensive work with collaborators on determining historic fire regimes inoak/pine-dominated ecosystems throughout the Midwest and Great Lakes Regions. I apply this knowledgeby developing methods of using prescribed fire to restore native forest communities, favor firedependentspecies, reduce fuels and fire risk, restore natural ecosystem processes, etc. I model forestresponses to specific silvicultural practices. I develop forest management guidelines for practitioners. I am working with a collaborator on a study of the role and management of large wood in river systems. Fornow, this research is focusing on developing a long-term (i.e., 14,000-year) oak tree ring chronology fromancient wood buried in alluvial soils. We are using this tree-ring information to reconstruct climate andcorrelate tree growth with global climate metrics.

Research Interests

I plan on continuing my work in forest regeneration and restoration in primarily oak/pine forests and inthe afforestation of bottomland forests. I am interested in wildlife and forest interactions during the regenerationprocess. I also am interested in developing regional regeneration models for the Central HardwoodRegion. I am initiating new research in the silviculture of pine/oak forests with emphasis on shortleaf pineregeneration and development in natural upland forests. I will continue with my work in the managementof riparian forests and interactions between terrestrial and aquatic systems. We seek funding and additionalcollaborators to advance our work in constructing the American long oak chronology-the 14,000-yeartree-ring record derived from buried ancient oak logs in alluvial soils, and to advance our climate modelsbased on the dendrochronological record.

Why This Research is Important

Forest managers often want to regenerate mature forests, or to restore forests where they use to be. In either case, it is a very specific type of forest they are trying to manage for the future. They not only desire to shape the structure and composition of the forests, but also promote the production of a diversity of goods and services. And to do this with some degree of certainty, in an economical manner is not an easy task. My research addresses priority issues in forest regeneration in the northern region. I provide a better understanding of how forests respond to natural and human disturbances, and how management can be used to guide forest regeneration and succession. I evaluate innovative combinations of traditional silvicultural practices for managing forests. I produce models of forest regeneration, which are useful tools for forest managers. They allow evaluation of current forest conditions and prediction of future outcomes for specified types of management. My work in fire and vegetation history provides an ecological foundation for forest restoration work. Ultimately, this research is the basis for forest management guidelines and standards.

Professional Organizations

  • Society of American Foresters

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Prediction of historic fire frequency from 165-1850 for the continental U.S. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

The History of Fire in the United States and its Future Under Changing Climates

Year: 2016

In the past, North America was a fire continent, but the role of fire was highly variable across the country and over time. Fire history research quantitatively defines key attributes of past fire regimes. This is key ecological information that informs efforts to restore fire-dependent natural communities. Forest Service scientists are providing site-specific fire histories throughout eastern North America to assist managers in their ecosystem and landscape restoration efforts. Their continental models of fire occurrence based on climate variables are used to predict past or future fire activity and serve as useful input to restoration and fire management plans for local to national concerns.

Examples of mixedwood types in eastern North America: A) shortleaf pine – oak forest in southern Missouri (credit: Missouri Department of Conservation); B) white pine – red oak forest in southern Maine (credit: Justin Waskiewicz); C) spruce – fir – hardwood forest in Quebec (credit: Patricia Raymond); D) hemlock – hardwood forest in northern Wisconsin. Kate Gerndt.

Hardwood-Softwood Mixtures for Future Forests in Eastern North America: Assessing Suitability to Projected Climate Change

Year: 2016

Despite growing interest in management strategies for climate change adaptation, there are few methods for assessing the ability of stands to endure or adapt to projected future climates. Forest Service scientists developed a means for assigning climate “compatibility” and “adaptability” scores to stands for assessing the suitability of tree species for projected climate scenarios. They used these scores to determine if mixed hardwood-softwood stands or “mixedwoods” were better suited to projected future climates than pure hardwood or pure softwood stands.

The historic landscape of Missouri was more diverse than it is today.  In the past, a mosaic of oak/pine savannas, woodlands and forests intermingled across the state (top panel, left to right), but today the landscape is dominated by forests in the Ozark Highlands (lower panel) or agriculture and riparian forests in the Plains region of northern and western Missouri (photographs by Dan Dey and Paul Nelson, U.S. Forest Service). Brice Hanberry, University of Missouri

Study Guides Restoration of Natural Communities in Missouri

Year: 2015

Land use over the last 200 years has decreased diversity, and increased homogeneity, of the vegetative landscape of Missouri. This trend has put the state’s forested-prairie ecoregion in significant risk of environmental degradation and catastrophic resource loss from invasive species outbreaks, extreme weather events, or forest declines from native insects and diseases. Forest Service scientists have compared data from 1815 to 1850 with modern data from the Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program and to help managers plan for ecosystem restoration, locate priority areas, better define desired future conditions, and design efficient and effective management practices.

Landscape photograph of the Missouri Ozark forests. Dan Dey, USDA Forest Service

Forest Management Guidelines Help Improve and Sustain Missouri's Forest Resources

Year: 2014

Missouri landowners and resource managers need state-of-the-art, science-based knowledge of forest management planning, silviculture, and best management practices to guide their stewardship and use of Missouri's 15.5 million acres of forestland. Forests contribute significantly to the state economy (more than $8 billion from forest industry alone), provide substantial job opportunities, produce clean air and water, act as playgrounds for recreation, serve as home to valued wildlife, and protect high levels of native biodiversity. Forest Service scientists and partners have produced "Missouri Forest Management Guidelines," as a comprehensive, science-based publication on forest management for sustainable multiple-use of Missouri's forests.

The upper left is the modeled historic probability of occurrence of shortleaf pine based on General Land Office Survey data, the upper right is the current probability of occurrence of shortleaf pine based on FIA data.  The lower left is the modeled historic probability of occurrence of white oak based on General Land Office Survey data, the lower right is the current probability of occurrence of white oak based on FIA data. Daniel Dey, USDA Forest Service

Loss of diversity in the Missouri Ozark Highlands Places Ecosystem at Risk

Year: 2013

Past land use over the last 200 years has made Missouri's Ozark Highlands less diverse and more homogeneous in the condition of its vegetation. This trend places the ecoregion at more at risk to environmental degradation and catastrophic resource loss from invasive species outbreaks, extreme weather events, or changes in the climate than from natural forest declines due to native insects and diseases. Research by Forest Service scientists provides information to help managers plan for ecosystem restoration, locate priority areas, better define desired future conditions, and design efficient and effective management practices.

Dr. Felix Ponder standing at one of his LTSP sites. Forest Service

Effects of Timber Harvesting and Biomass Removal on Forest Health Studied

Year: 2012

A 10-year study shows that forest sites are able to experience high levels of soil compaction and biomass removal with little negative effects on seedling growth and nutrition

Map of mean fire interval years in the United States. Forest Service

New Model Estimates Historic Fire Frequency

Year: 2012

Model will help restore fire-dependent ecosystems and assess effects of changing climates

Last modified: Tuesday, December 12, 2017