Scientists & Staff

Christel Kern, Rhinelander, WI, October 2019

Christel Kern

Research Forester
5985 Highway K
Rhinelander, WI, 54501-9128
Phone: 715-362-1123

Contact Christel Kern

Resume (547 KB PDF)

Current Research

  • Plant community and tree regeneration under variable retention harvests in red pine
  • Long-term effects of prescribed fire on soils, fuels, vegetaton, and productivity of red pine forests
  • Global study of forest influence on plant and beetle communities in harvest areas
  • Using fire, harvest, and mechical treatments to restore barrens, savannahs, woodlands, and forests of northern dry pine forests
  • Cutting methods in old and second-growth northern hardwoods
  • Role of group or harvest gap size on tree regeneration and plant communities
  • Role of microtopography in northern hardwood tree growth, regeneration, and diversity
  • Seedbank potential for restoration and adaptation of forest ecosystems

Research Interests

  • Short and long term influence of conventional and ecological forestry approaches on forest structure and composition
  • Functional diversity of understory plant communities response to silvicultural treatments
  • Adaptive silviculture for changing conditions

Why This Research is Important

Long term perspectives on a variety of approaches to forest management are exceptionally important as environmental conditions and societal values continue to change. My work focuses on ecological underpinnings of plant community dynamics in managed forests both at present and retrospectively over past decades. Analysis of past work provides a rare insight into long term trends and responses that cannot be detected in a short term study or even during one's career! In light of this, I have the fortunate opportunity to study decades of silvicultural research from earlier scientists to evaluate impacts on complex issues such as forest sustainability and ecosystem integrity. These research results will provide information and tools to adapt silvicultural systems to the changing needs of the future.


  • University of Minnesota, Ph.D. Natural Resource Science and Management, 2011
  • University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, M.S. Natural Resources, 2000
  • University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, B.S. Biology, 1997

Professional Organizations

  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft Naturgemäße Waldwirtschaft (2014 - Current)
  • Ecological Society of America (2014 - Current)
  • Prosilva (2014 - Current)
  • Certified Silviculturist (2006 - Current)
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF) (2001 - Current)
  • Forest Guild

Awards & Recognition

  • 2018 Percy Stubbs, John Bolton King, and Edward Garfitt Prize for Silviculture , 2019 By authority of the Institute of Chartered Foresters for the publication of "Challenges facing gap-based silviculture and possible solutions for mesic northern forests in North America" Forestry 90(1):4-17

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Tribal forestry and western science come together to sustain forests for future generations

Year: 2017

The Menominee Nation uses available science, local field testing, and professional experience to formulate an adaptive approach within their way of life and principle to maintain natural resources for generations to come. Recently, a Forest Service scientist helped tribal foresters monitor sustainability of their common forestry practices. The collaboration has been a success due to the group’s diverse backgrounds as researchers and managers, tribal member and non-members, generations old and young, and nations near and far.

Samples from increment borer shows the growth of a tree.  Does increasing CO2 affect the maximum number of trees that can be sustained in a forest?  If it does then all forest density management guides need a revision.

Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration alters forest stand development, so do management guidelines need revision?

Year: 2017

A decade ago, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide was at the heart of the Aspen Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Experiment. Forest Service researchers in Rhinelander, Wisc., wanted to know if these increases affected forest growth. What they discovered raises the possibility that principles of stand development and size-density relationships are already obsolete.

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.

Last modified: Sunday, December 15, 2019