Scientists & Staff

Dr. John Brown

John Brown

Research Forester
301 Hardwood Lane, Suite B
Princeton, WV, 24740
Phone: 304-431-2731

Contact John Brown

Current Research

  • Modeling hardwood species tree survival for a range of forest management practices and disturbance regimes.
  • Modeling the effects of silvicultural systems on tree grade.
  • Determining and interpreting red spruce site index to support high-elevation red spruce restoration in the central Appalachians.
  • Research Interests

    Forest Biometrics, Silviculture, Forest Disturbance.

    Why This Research is Important

    Tree survival is a common inventory measure that is collected for multiple long term data sets related to forest management strategies and disturbance.  Analysis however has been limited in the past to logistic regression modeling or other more basic measures of mortality such as percentages over time.  A variety of research topics have been presented where mortality of the overstory trees is studied in a limited fashion, such as shelterwood-burns, invasive species such as emerald ash borer, and deferment cutting  

    Studies of the effect of forest management on tree grade exist but were limited in the past by a lack of statistical program capability and a need for advancements in the theory of generalized linear mixed models.  With newer tools available, a more rigourous approach can be implemented to analyzing the effect of forest management on tree grade.  This allows for better estimation of hardwood yields across the region.

    Growth and yield modeling is an important tool for consultants, land managers, and software developers with models needing to be developed for Appalachian forests.  In some cases, there are no available models for particular species (for example Tilia americana or Fagus grandifolia), while for others an important input, site index, is not representative of the region.  .  Appalachian hardwoods are critical to sustaining the hardwood forest products industry which supports many rural communities in the region, while the latter is an endangered ecosystem in need of restoration.  Beyond the issue of unavailable and unsuitable growth and yield models, changes in forest management practices and changing climate are also factors influencing the need for new models.


    • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University , Doctor Of Philosophy Forestry and Forest Products (Forest Biometrics), 2009
    • Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, B.S. Environmental Science, 1994

    Professional Experience

    • Research Forester, USDA Forest Service 2010 - Current
    • Mathematical Statistician, USDA Forest Service 2000 - 2009

    Featured Publications & Products

    Publications & Products

    National Research Highlights

    Two oak trees of different diameters after prescribed fire. The larger of the two, though charred higher up the bole, is more likely to survive.

    Study reveals how to minimize overstory mortality when using shelterwood-burn techniques to restore oak forests

    Year: 2017

    Hardwood forests, and especially oak forests, in the eastern U.S. often require fire to create forest conditions suitable for successful stand regeneration from seeds. Today these conditions are most often achieved through use of prescribed fire; however, these fires put mature trees at risk. Forest Service scientists are studying how different stand treatments combined with prescribed fire can achieve desired regeneration results while minimizing tree mortality.

    The NRS LT visiting the demonstration area via the Zero Grade Trail, which has universal access design features.

    Forest management demonstration area highlights working forest

    Year: 2017

    New research published in 2017 describes the results of a 60-year forest management demonstration area on the Fernow Experimental Forest and the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.

    The mean proportion of grade 1 butt logs for the diameter-limit, single tree selection, and partial cutting harvests as estimated at 15 year fixed intervals. USDA Forest Service

    Silvicultural Prescriptions Affect Hardwood Tree Quality Over Five Decades of Management

    Year: 2015

    Analysis of 50-year records of harvests on the Fernow Experimental Forest in west Virginia by Forest Service scientists demonstrates that diameter-limit cutting is not a sustainable practice in regard to tree quality. In contrast, single-tree selection has not affected stand quality and is sustainable.

    Proportion of grade one trees harvested over time for three harvest types. John Brown, USDA Forest Service.

    Sustaining Tree Quality Under Three Harvesting Methods

    Year: 2014

    The quality of trees grown and harvested under various methods exhibits changing patterns over time. A Forest Service scientist studied three methods to determine the sustainability of the options over the long term. Although the number of trees harvested was initially significantly higher from both patch cutting and single tree selection, the percentage of trees cut from diameter-limit plots decreased over time whereas the patch cutting and single tree selection practices have increasing percentages. At close to fifty years, the practices have converged in percentages and suggest that the diameter practice is on an unsustainable curve while patch cutting and single tree selection are more sustainable choices.

    Last modified: Friday, June 12, 2020