Scientists & Staff

Leslie Brandt

Leslie Brandt

Climate Change Specialist
1992 Folwell Avenue
St. Paul, MN, 55108-1034
Phone: 651-649-5016

Contact Leslie Brandt


Current Research

As a Climate Change Specialist for NIACS and the Forest Service Eastern Region, I work to bridge climate change research with forest management. My primary responsibility is to coordinate the Central Hardwoods and Urban Forestry Climate Change Response Framework projects. As coordinator for the Central Hardwoods, I developed an ecosystem vulnerability assessment for Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri. Information from the assessment is currently being used to develop climate change adaptation strategies and tactics for forests in the Central Hardwoods Region in real-world demonstration projects. The Urban Forestry Climate Change Response Framework project aims to engage with communities across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Midwest that are interested in adapting their urban forest management to climate change. 

I also provide general outreach and support for climate change activities in the Forest Service Eastern Region. This includes developing web resources in support of the Forest Service Climate Change Scorecard, developing classroom-based climate change training, and keeping the National Forests in the Eastern Region up-to-date with policies and research outcomes related to climate change and forest management.

Research Interests

climate change adaptation, climate change communication, vulnerability assessments, applied science, ecosystem ecology

Past Research

My past research has focused on understanding the role photodegradation (breakdown by solar radiation) plays in carbon and nitrogen cycling in desert and grassland ecosystems. This poorly understood process can play a significant role in the carbon cycle when biological activity is low and solar radiation is high, and has important implications for how carbon cycling may be altered under a changing climate.

Why This Research is Important

Understanding the impacts of climate change and finding ways to adapt to those changes helps managers make informed decisions about forest management.

Education

  • University of Minnesota, Ph.D. Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, 2009
  • Gustavus Adolphus College, B.A. Biology, 2002

Professional Organizations

  • American Society of Adaptation Professionals (2013 - Current)
  • Toastmasters International (2010 - Current)
  • Earth Science Women's Network (2008 - Current)

Awards & Recognition

  • Minnesota Adaptation Award to an Institution , 2014 Awarded to the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science for its work in climate change adaptation in Minnesota forests.
  • 2013 Northern Research Station Director's Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, 2013 2013 Northern Research Station Director's Award for Excellence in Science and Technology award to Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

  • Brandt, Leslie A.; Sertle, Michael ; Hamilton, Heath ; Deaton, Chad ; Mangan, Karen ; Swanston, Christopher W.; Hammes, Mary ; Nagel, Linda M.; Peterson, Courtney L.; Looney, Christopher E.; Windmuller- Campione, Marcella ; Montgomery, Rebecca A. 2020. Adapting bottomland hardwood forests to a changing climate. In: Pile, Lauren S.; Deal, Robert L.; Dey, Daniel C.; Gwaze, David; Kabrick, John M.; Palik, Brian J.; Schuler, Thomas M., comps. The 2019 National Silviculture Workshop: a focus on forest management-research partnerships. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-193. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 159-162.
  • Looney, Christopher E.; Peterson, Courtney L.; Nagel, Linda M.; Guldin, James M.; Swanston, ChristopherW ; Janowiak, Maria K.; Battaglia, Mike A.; Bigelow, Seth W.; Brandt, Leslie A.; D'Amato, Anthony W.; Evans, Kevin ; Jack, Steve B.; Jain, Theresa B.; Jenkins, Melissa M.; Kennedy Sutherland, Elaine ; Hammes, Mary ; Palik, Brian J.; Tuten, Matt C.; Woodall, Christopher W. 2020. Adaptive silviculture for climate change network: learning from land manager-research partnerships. In: Pile, Lauren S.; Deal, Robert L.; Dey, Daniel C.; Gwaze, David; Kabrick, John M.; Palik, Brian J.; Schuler, Thomas M., comps. The 2019 National Silviculture Workshop: a focus on forest management-research partnerships. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-193. Madison,WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 112-114.
  • Butler-Leopold, Patricia ; Brandt, Leslie A.; Handler, Stephen D.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Shannon, Patricia D.; Anonymous, Anonymous; Swanston, Chris W. 2019. Identifying and addressing vulnerabilities of oak ecosystems. e-Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-237. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station
  • O'Toole, Daniel ; Brandt, Leslie A.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Schmitt, Kristen M.; Shannon, P. Danielle; Leopold, Patricia R.; Handler, Stephen D.; Ontl, Todd A.; Swanston, Christopher W. 2019. Climate Change Adaptation Strategies and Approaches for Outdoor Recreation. Sustainability
  • Phillips, Richard P.; Brandt, Leslie ; Polly, P. David; Zollner, Patrick ; Saunders, Michael R.; Clay, Keith ; Iverson, Louis ; Fei, Songlin. 2019. An integrated assessment of the potential impacts of climate change on Indiana forests. Climatic Change
  • Reynolds, Heather L.; Brandt, Leslie ; Fischer, Burnell C.; Hardiman, Brady S.; Moxley, Donovan J.; Sandweiss, Eric ; Speer, James H.; Fei, Songlin. 2019. Implications of climate change for managing urban green infrastructure: an Indiana, US case study. Climatic Change
  • Shannon, P. Danielle; Swanston, Christopher W.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Handler, Stephen D.; Schmitt, Kristen M.; Brandt, Leslie A.; Butler-Leopold, Patricia R.; Ontl, Todd. 2019. Adaptation strategies and approaches for forested watersheds. Climate Services
  • Butler-Leopold, Patricia R.; Iverson, Louis R.; Thompson, Frank R.; Brandt, Leslie A.; Handler, Stephen D.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Shannon, P. Danielle; Swanston, Christopher W.; Bearer, Scott ; Bryan, Alexander M.; Clark, Kenneth L.; Czarnecki, Greg ; DeSenze, Philip ; Dijak, William D.; Fraser, Jacob S.; Gugger, Paul F.; Hille, Andrea ; Hynicka, Justin ; Jantz, Claire A.; Kelly, Matthew C.; Krause, Katrina M.; La Puma, Inga Parker; Landau, Deborah ; Lathrop, Richard G.; Leites, Laura P.; Madlinger, Evan ; Matthews, Stephen N.; Ozbay, Gulnihal ; Peters, Matthew P.; Prasad, Anantha ; Schmit, David A.; Shephard, Collin ; Shirer, Rebecca ; Skowronski, Nicholas S.; Steele, Al ; Stout, Susan ; Thomas-Van Gundy, Melissa ; Thompson, John ; Turcotte, Richard M.; Weinstein, David A.; Yáñez, Alfonso. 2018. Mid-Atlantic forest ecosystem vulnerability assessment and synthesis: a report from the Mid-Atlantic Climate Change Response Framework project. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-181. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 294 p.
  • Janowiak, Maria K.; D'Amato, Anthony W.; Swanston, Christopher W.; Iverson, Louis; Thompson, Frank R.; Dijak, William D.; Matthews, Stephen; Peters, Matthew P.; Prasad, Anantha; Fraser, Jacob S.; Brandt, Leslie A.; Butler-Leopold, Patricia; Handler, Stephen D.; Shannon, P. Danielle; Burbank, Diane; Campbell, John; Cogbill, Charles; Duveneck, Matthew J.; Emery, Marla R.; Fisichelli, Nicholas; Foster, Jane; Hushaw, Jennifer; Kenefic, Laura; Mahaffey, Amanda; Morelli, Toni Lyn; Reo, Nicholas J.; Schaberg, Paul G.; Simmons, K. Rogers; Weiskittel, Aaron; Wilmot, Sandy; Hollinger, David; Lane, Erin; Rustad, Lindsey; Templer, Pamela H. 2018. New England and northern New York forest ecosystem vulnerability assessment and synthesis: a report from the New England Climate Change Response Framework project. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-173. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 234 p.
  • Ontl, Todd A.; Swanston, Chris; Brandt, Leslie A.; Butler, Patricia R.; D'Amato, Anthony W.; Handler, Stephen D.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Shannon, P. Danielle. 2018. Adaptation pathways: ecoregion and land ownership influences on climate adaptation decision-making in forest management. Climatic Change
  • Swanston, Chris; Brandt, Leslie A.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Handler, Stephen D.; Butler-Leopold, Patricia; Iverson, Louis; Thompson, Frank R.; Ontl, Todd A.; Shannon, P. Danielle. 2018. Vulnerability of forests of the Midwest and Northeast United States to climate change. Climatic Change. 146(1-2): 103-116.
  • Adair, E. Carol; Parton, William J.; King, Jennifer Y.; Brandt, Leslie A.; Lin, Yang. 2017. Accounting for photodegradation dramatically improves prediction of carbon losses in dryland systems. Ecosphere
  • Brandt, Leslie A.; Butler, Patricia R.; Handler, Stephen D.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Shannon, P. Danielle; Swanston, Christopher W. 2017. Integrating Science and Management to Assess Forest Ecosystem Vulnerability to Climate Change. Journal of Forestry
  • Brandt, Leslie A.; Derby Lewis, Abigail; Scott, Lydia; Darling, Lindsay; Fahey, Robert T.; Iverson, Louis; Nowak, David J.; Bodine, Allison R.; Bell, Andrew; Still, Shannon; Butler, Patricia R.; Dierich, Andrea; Handler, Stephen D.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Matthews, Stephen N.; Miesbauer, Jason W.; Peters, Matthew; Prasad, Anantha; Shannon, P. Danielle; Stotz, Douglas; Swanston, Christopher W. 2017. Chicago Wilderness region urban forest vulnerability assessment and synthesis: a report from the Urban Forestry Climate Change Response Framework Chicago Wilderness pilot project. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-168. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 142 p.
  • Iverson, Louis R.; Thompson, Frank R.; Matthews, Stephen ; Peters, Matthew ; Prasad, Anantha ; Dijak, William D.; Fraser, Jacob ; Wang, Wen J.; Hanberry, Brice ; He, Hong ; Janowiak, Maria ; Butler, Patricia ; Brandt, Leslie ; Swanston, Christopher. 2017. Multi-model comparison on the effects of climate change on tree species in the eastern U.S.: results from an enhanced niche model and process-based ecosystem and landscape models. Landscape Ecology
  • Brandt, Leslie; Derby Lewis, Abigail; Fahey, Robert; Scott, Lydia; Darling, Lindsay; Swanston, Chris. 2016. A framework for adapting urban forests to climate change. Environmental Science & Policy
  • Swanston, Christopher W.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Brandt, Leslie A.; Butler, Patricia R.; Handler, Stephen D.; Shannon, P. Danielle; Derby Lewis, Abigail; Hall, Kimberly; Fahey, Robert T.; Scott, Lydia; Kerber, Angela; Miesbauer, Jason W.; Darling, Lindsay; Parker, Linda; St. Pierre, Matt. 2016. Forest Adaptation Resources: climate change tools and approaches for land managers, 2nd edition. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-GTR-87-2. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 161 p. http://dx.doi.org/10.2737/NRS-GTR-87-2.
  • Butler, Patricia R.; Iverson, Louis; Thompson, Frank R.; Brandt, Leslie; Handler, Stephen; Janowiak, Maria; Shannon, P. Danielle; Swanston, Chris; Karriker, Kent; Bartig, Jarel; Connolly, Stephanie; Dijak, William; Bearer, Scott; Blatt, Steve; Brandon, Andrea; Byers, Elizabeth; Coon, Cheryl; Culbreth, Tim; Daly, Jad; Dorsey, Wade; Ede, David; Euler, Chris; Gillies, Neil; Hix, David M.; Johnson, Catherine; Lyte, Latasha; Matthews, Stephen; McCarthy, Dawn; Minney, Dave; Murphy, Daniel; O'Dea, Claire; Orwan, Rachel; Peters, Matthew; Prasad, Anantha; Randall, Cotton; Reed, Jason; Sandeno, Cynthia; Schuler, Tom; Sneddon, Lesley; Stanley, Bill; Steele, Al; Stout, Susan; Swaty, Randy; Teets, Jason; Tomon, Tim; Vanderhorst, Jim; Whatley, John; Zegre, Nicholas. 2015. Central Appalachians forest ecosystem vulnerability assessment and synthesis: a report from the Central Appalachians Climate Change Response Framework project. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-146. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 310 p.
  • Butler, Patricia R.; Brandt, Leslie A.; Handler, Stephen D.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Shannon, Patricia D.; Swanston, Chris W. 2014. A framework for assessing climate change vulnerability and identifying adaptation responses in the central hardwoods region. In: Groninger, John W.; Holzmueller, Eric J.; Nielsen, Clayton K.; Dey, Daniel C., eds. Proceedings, 19th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; 2014 March 10-12; Carbondale, IL. General Technical Report NRS-P-142. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 20-21.
  • Handler, Stephen D.; Swanston, Chris W.; Butler, Patricia R.; Brandt, Leslie A.; Janowiak, Maria K.; Powers, Matthew D.; Shannon, P. Danielle. 2014. Climate change vulnerabilities within the forestry sector for the Midwestern United States. In: Winkler, Julie A.; Andresen, Jeffrey A.; Hatfield, Jerry L.; Bidwell, David; Brown, Daniel, eds. Climate change in the midwest: A synthesis report for the national climate assessment. Washington, DC: Island Press: 114-151.
  • Handler, Stephen; Duveneck, Matthew J.; Iverson, Louis; Peters, Emily; Scheller, Robert M.; Wythers, Kirk R.; Brandt, Leslie; Butler, Patricia; Janowiak, Maria; Shannon, P. Danielle; Swanston, Chris; Barrett, Kelly; Kolka, Randy; McQuiston, Casey; Palik, Brian; Reich, Peter B.; Turner, Clarence; White, Mark; Adams, Cheryl; D'Amato, Anthony; Hagell, Suzanne; Johnson, Patricia; Johnson, Rosemary; Larson, Mike; Matthews, Stephen; Montgomery, Rebecca; Olson, Steve; Peters, Matthew; Prasad, Anantha; Rajala, Jack; Daley, Jad; Davenport, Mae; Emery, Marla R.; Fehringer, David; Hoving, Christopher L.; Johnson, Gary; Johnson, Lucinda; Neitzel, David; Rissman, Adena; Rittenhouse, Chadwick; Ziel, Robert. 2014. Minnesota forest ecosystem vulnerability assessment and synthesis: a report from the Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework project. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-133. Newtown Square, PA; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 228 p.
  • Handler, Stephen; Duveneck, Matthew J.; Iverson, Louis; Peters, Emily; Scheller, Robert M.; Wythers, Kirk R.; Brandt, Leslie; Butler, Patricia; Janowiak, Maria; Shannon, P. Danielle; Swanston, Chris; Eagle, Amy Clark; Cohen, Joshua G.; Corner, Rich; Reich, Peter B.; Baker, Tim; Chhin, Sophan; Clark, Eric; Fehringer, David; Fosgitt, Jon; Gries, James; Hall, Christine; Hall, Kimberly R.; Heyd, Robert; Hoving, Christopher L.; Ibáñez, Ines; Kuhr, Don; Matthews, Stephen; Muladore, Jennifer; Nadelhoffer, Knute; Neumann, David; Peters, Matthew; Prasad, Anantha; Sands, Matt; Swaty, Randy; Wonch, Leiloni; Daley, Jad; Davenport, Mae; Emery, Marla R.; Johnson, Gary; Johnson, Lucinda; Neitzel, David; Rissman, Adena; Rittenhouse, Chadwick; Ziel, Robert. 2014. Michigan forest ecosystem vulnerability assessment and synthesis: a report from the Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework project. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-129. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 229 p.
  • Janowiak, Maria K.; Iverson, Louis R.; Mladenoff, David J.; Peters, Emily; Wythers, Kirk R.; Xi, Weimin; Brandt, Leslie A.; Butler, Patricia R.; Handler, Stephen D.; Shannon, P. Danielle; Swanston, Chris; Parker, Linda R.; Amman, Amy J.; Bogaczyk, Brian; Handler, Christine; Lesch, Ellen; Reich, Peter B.; Matthews, Stephen; Peters, Matthew; Prasad, Anantha; Khanal, Sami; Liu, Feng; Bal, Tara; Bronson, Dustin; Burton, Andrew; Ferris, Jim; Fosgitt, Jon; Hagan, Shawn; Johnston, Erin; Kane, Evan; Matula, Colleen; O'Connor, Ryan; Higgins, Dale; St. Pierre, Matt; Daley, Jad; Davenport, Mae; Emery, Marla R.; Fehringer, David; Hoving, Christopher L.; Johnson, Gary; Neitzel, David; Notaro, Michael; Rissman, Adena; Rittenhouse, Chadwick; Ziel, Robert. 2014. Forest ecosystem vulnerability assessment and synthesis for northern Wisconsin and western Upper Michigan: a report from the Northwoods Climate Change Response Framework project. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-136. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 247 p.
  • Janowiak, Maria K.; Swanston, Christopher W.; Nagel, Linda M.; Brandt, Leslie A.; Butler, Patricia R.; Handler, Stephen D.; Shannon, P. Danielle; Iverson, Louis R.; Matthews, Stephen N.; Prasad, Anantha; Peters, Matthew P. 2014. A practical approach for translating climate change adaptation principles into forest management actions. Journal of Forestry. 112(5): 424-433.
  • Johnson, Randy; Boyce, Sandy; Brandt, Leslie; Erickson, Vicky; Iverson, Louis; Kujawa, Greg; Tkacz, Borys. 2013. Policy and strategy considerations for assisted migration on USDA Forest Service lands. In: Browning, J.; Palacios, P., comps. Proceedings of the 60th Annual Western International Forest Disease Work Conference; 2012 October 8-12; Tahoe City, CA. [place of publication unknown]: Western International Forest Disease Work Conference: 35-41.

Other Publications

  • King, J.Y., L.A. Brandt, and E.C. Adair. 2012. Shedding light on plant litter decomposition: advances, implications and new directions in understanding the role of photodegradation. Biogeochemistry 111: 1-3. DOI: 10.1007/s10533-012-9737-9

    Brandt, L.A., J.Y. King, S.E. Hobbie, D.G. Milchunas, and R.L. Sinsabaugh. 2010. The role of photodegradation in surface litter decomposition across a grassland ecosystem precipitation gradient. Ecosystems 13: 765-781.

    Brandt, L.A., C. Bohnet, and J.Y. King. 2009. Photochemically-induced carbon dioxide production as a mechanism for carbon loss from plant litter in arid ecosystems. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences 114: G02004, doi:10.1029/2008JG000772.

    Brandt, L. A., J. Y. King, and D. G. Milchunas. 2007. Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation on Litter Decomposition Depend on Precipitation and Litter Chemistry in a Shortgrass Steppe Ecosystem." Global Change Biology 13.10: 2193-205.

    Parton W, Silver WL, Burke IC, Grassens L, Harmon ME, Currie WS, King, J.Y. Adair, E.C.,Brandt, L.A. , Hart, S.C. , Fasth, B. 2007. Global-Scale Similarities in Nitrogen Release Patterns during Long-Term Decomposition. Science 315.5810: 361-4.

    Brandt, L. A., and E. W. Koch. 2003. Periphyton as a UV-B Filter on Seagrass Leaves: A Result of Different Transmittance in the UV-B and PAR Ranges. Aquatic Botany 76.4: 317-27.

National Research Highlights

Staff at Mississippi Park Connection are testing bald cypress and black tupelo as potential replacements to ash trees lost to emerald ash borer at Pigs Eye Park in Saint Paul, MN. These species were chosen because they are adapted to warmer temperatures and flooding.

Adapting urban forests to a changing climate

Year: 2017

A framework for urban forest vulnerability assessment and adaptation, piloted with partners in the Chicago region, is informing master planning for urban trees in the city of Chicago and is expanding to other urban areas in the Midwest and Northeast.

The Adaptation Workbook online tool is a structured tool for land managers to use to integrate climate change into management plans. Users of the tool draw from ecosystem vulnerability assessments published by the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station. Danielle Shannon, Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science.

Resources Help Land Managers Adapt to a Changing Climate

Year: 2016

An adaptation planning tool developed by the Forest Service and its partners has helped generate more than 185 examples of climate change adaptation across the Northeast and Midwest.

Village Of Riverside, one of 10 communities participating in the pilot effort in the Chicago Wilderness region. Michael Collins, Village of Riverside

Urban Forestry Climate Change Response Framework Pilot Launched

Year: 2015

Forest Service scientists are working to incorporate climate change considerations into urban forest management in the Chicago area. Recently, they co-sponsored, with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, two workshops and a national conference.

Scientists and Managers Work To Develop Climate-Smart Conservation Strategies

Year: 2012

Project that addresses the needs of land managers in a changing climate has expanded to nine States and more than 133 million acres

Last modified: Monday, April 06, 2020