Scientists & Staff

Joanne Rebbeck

Plant Physiologist
359 Main Road
Delaware, OH, 43015
Phone: 740-368-0054

Contact Joanne Rebbeck

Current Research

I am studying the influence of forest management practices, specifically prescribed fire, shelterwood harvests, and herbicides on oak regeneration in Central Appalachian mixed oak forests in Ohio and Pennsylvania. At the Ohio Hills site of the national Fire and Fire Surrogates Study (FFS), I am studying the impact of prescribed fire and overstory thinning on the survival and growth of oak and hickory seedlings as well as their competitors (red maple, yellow-poplar, beech and blackgum). In collaboration with Todd Hutchinson, I am investigating the use of shelterwood harvests, prescribed fire and herbicides to promote oak regeneration. I have recently begun a new project with Todd Hutchinson, Daniel Yaussy, Louis Iverson and Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, to study the interactions of prescribed fire in managed oak forests with the invasive tree, Ailanthus altissima.

I am actively involved in educational outreach programs with local schools. I am partnering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, Wayne National Forest, US Fish and Wildlife, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, Columbus and Delaware City Schools to provide fifth graders overnight camping and environmental education experiences with funding through a More Kids in the Woods grant. In 2006, Kathleen Knight and I initiated a research project with local middle school students to study the impacts of Emerald Ash Borer within the school's woodlot.

Research Interests

  • Study the ecophysiology of the major eastern hickory species.
  • Compare the responses of hickory and oak species to prescribed fires and other forest management practices.


  • North Carolina State University, Ph.D. Botany, 1987
  • Rutgers University, M.S. Plant Pathology, 1983
  • Cook College, Rutgers University, B.S. Plant Science, 1980

Professional Organizations

  • Ecological Society of America
  • Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF)
  • Ohio Member of Invasive Plant Network and Southeastern Ohio Non-Native Invasive Species Interest Group

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Dead and dying Ailanthus trees inoculated with biocontrol fungus.

A native fungus takes on an exotic and aggressive tree species

Year: 2017

Working with the Wayne National Forest and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Forest Service scientists are studying a native fungus and finding that it kills ailanthus trees while sparing native tree species. Inoculations in research trials began in 2015 in Ohio and appear to be successful.

Tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) seeds and foliage, Chuck Bargeron, University of Georgia,

Persistence of Ailanthus Seeds in Forest Floor Seed Bank

Year: 2016

Ailanthus is an aggressive non-native invader of mixed hardwood forests, where it can outcompete native vegetation, including both trees and other plants. Forest Service scientists are testing a native wilt fungus as a biocontrol, but managers also want to know how long the seed persists in the forest floor after seed source trees have been removed.

Inoculation of ailanthus tree with fungal spores by a researcher in Wayne National Forest. USDA Forest Service

Possible Biocontrol Agent for the Invasive Ailanthus Tree Is Tested

Year: 2015

Forest Service scientists from the agency’s Northern Research Station are studying a native fungus and find that it kills ailanthus (tree-of-heaven) while sparing native tree species. Inoculations in research trials that began in Ohio appear to be successful.

Dempsey Middle School science students paint and dissect ash logs to understand woodpecker feeding on emerald ash borer larvae. Joanne Rebbeck, USDA Forest Service

Woodpeckers Capitalize on an Invasive Forest Pest

Year: 2014

Emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that kills ash trees, is eaten by bark-foraging birds like woodpeckers. Forest Service scientists and partners studied behavioral feeding preferences and effectiveness of woodpeckers foraging in beetle-infested forests.

Ailanthus tree inoculated with wilt fungus. Note drooping and wilting foliage. Joanne Rebbeck, USDA Forest Service.

Biocontrol Agent for the Invasive Ailanthus Tree To Be Tested

Year: 2014

Forest Service scientists are studying a North American fungus that selectively kills ailanthus trees. Test sites were selected in Ohio forests and trials will begin in spring 2015 to test the effectiveness of a soil-borne fungus on controlling Ailanthus.

A comparison of dying Ailanthus seedlings in the first row, which were inoculated with fungus, compared with control Ailanthus seedlings in the back row. J. Rebbeck, USDA Forest Service

Fungus Looks Like Promising Weapon Against Invasive Tree

Year: 2013

Forest Service scientists are studying a North American fungus that selectively kills ailanthus trees. Preliminary tests of other Ohio native tree species were conducted to confirm its potential as a biocontrol agent.

Ohio educators learn to use emerald ash borer as a current issue to teach the process of science to middle school students. Barbara McGuinness, USDA Forest Service

Destructive Emerald Ash Borer Pest Provides Science Learning Opportunity for Kids

Year: 2013

This effort has led to the development of a week-long EAB curriculum that gives kids hands-on experience with the process of science while doing real research on an important current issue. It involves students in the entire scientific process by engaging them in research from developing and testing hypotheses to reporting and presenting their findings.

Monitoring of the Invasive Tree, Ailanthus, Takes Flight Over Ohio Forests

Year: 2010

Ailanthus altissima, a rapidly growing invasive non-native tree, is spreading into many forested landscapes in the eastern United States and displacing native plants. Because female trees are prolific seeders (350,000 seeds per tree per year) and the prominent seed clusters persist during the winter months, NRS researchers Joanne Rebbeck, Todd Hutchinson, Louis Iverson, and Daniel Yaussy and partners at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Forestry, were able to develop aerial mapping techniques for finding ailanthus infestations.

Last modified: Wednesday, December 10, 2014