Scientists & Staff

MB Dickinson

Matthew Dickinson

359 Main Road
Delaware, OH, 43015
Phone: 740-368-0096

Contact Matthew Dickinson

Current Research

Dickinson's current research is focused on the links and feedbacks between fuels, fire behavior, and fire effects. Fire effects of interest include relatively direct effects, such as soil heating and tree injury and mortality, and longer-term effects on vegetation development and wildlife habitat. "Fuel ecology", the feedbacks among fuels, fire behavior, and vegetation, is being examined in the Ohio Hills and Wisconsin. Work on the effects of prescribed fire regimes on reptile and amphibian communities and their habitat at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is coming to completion as is research on the interactions among White Nose Syndrome, prescribed fire, and populations of bats and their insect prey at Mammoth Cave National Park. Accurate measurement of active fire continues to be a key component of Dickinson's fire behavior and effects work, requiring development of ground and airborne measurement methods. A reliable, well understood, and easily used radiation sensor is under development and a complete set of airborne measurements is being analyzed. As in the past, collaboration with colleagues with complementary skills (e.g., physics, engineering, tree physiology, wildlife ecology) is central to Dickinson's research approach.

Dickinson, Matthew B.; Hutchinson, Todd F.; Dietenberger, Mark; Matt, Frederick; Peters, Matthew P. 2016. Litter species composition and topographic effects on fuels and modeled fire behavior in an Oak-Hickory Forest in the Eastern USA. PLOS ONE. 11(8). 30 pp. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0159997.

Mathews, Bill J.; Strand, Eva K.; Smith, Alistair M. S.; Hudak, Andrew T.; Dickinson, Matthew B.; Kremens, Robert L. 2016. Laboratory experiments to estimate interception of infrared radiation by tree canopies. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 25: 1009-1014.

Effects of a landscape disturbance on the habitat use and behavior of the black racer. Copeia. 104(4): 853-863.

Kremens, Robert L.; Dickinson, Matthew B. 2015. Estimating radiated flux density from wildland fires using the raw output of limited bandpass detectors. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 24(4): 461-469.

Research Interests

Predicting fire effects with mechanistic models

Understanding wildland fire combustion and heat dissipation and transport processes and their links with fire effects

Measurement development for wildland fire monitoring

Past Research

Past research is prelude to Dickinson's current research, having focused on predicting the relatively direct effects of fires on trees and wildlife using models and measurement. Understanding the direct effects of fire requires FireStem and FireStem 2D were developed to allow prediction of tree stem heating in fires while physiological effects of crown heating were also considered. In analogy to fire effects on trees, the risk associated with forest bats roosting in prescribed fire areas was examined. Roosting bats enter torpor (a daily hibernation-like state), increasing their vulnerability to heat and gases from fires. Active-fire measurement development began with an examination of the use of thermocouples in fires and culminated with the application of new ground and airborne measurement methods in the Prescribed Fire Combustion and Atmospheric Dynamics Research (RxCADRE) project.   

Dickinson, Matthew B.; Hudak, Andrew T.; Zajkowski, Thomas; Loudermilk, E. Louise; Schroeder, Wilfrid; Ellison, Luke; Kremens, Robert L.; Holley, William; Martinez, Otto; Paxton, Alexander; Bright, Benjamin C.; O'Brien, Joseph J.; Hornsby, Benjamin; Ichoku, Charles; Faulring, Jason; Gerace, Aaron; Peterson, David; Mauceri, Joseph. 2016. Measuring radiant emissions from entire prescribed fires with ground, airborne and satellite sensors - RxCADRE 2012. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 25: 48-61.

Dickinson, M.B.; Norris, J.C.; Bova, A.S.; Kremens, R.L.; Young, V.; Lacki, M.J. 2010. Effects of wildland fire smoke on a tree-roosting bat: integrating a plume model, field measurements, and mammalian dose-response relationships. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 40: 2187-2203. Chatziefstratiou, Efthalia K.; Bohrer, Gil; Bova, Anthony S.; Subramanian, Ravishankar; Frasson, Renato P.M.; Scherzer, Amy; Butler, Bret W.; Dickinson, Matthew B. 2013. FireStem2D — A two-dimensional heat transfer model for simulating tree stem injury in fires. PLoS One. 8(7): e70110. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070110

Bova, Anthony S.; Dickinson, Matthew B. 2008. Beyond "fire temperatures": calibrating thermocouple probes and modeling their response to surface fires in hardwood fuels. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 38:1008-1020.

Why This Research is Important

Wildfires and prescribed fires are a central concern of the US Forest Service, accounting for a large portion of its budget and the work of its employees. Colleagues' and my research focuses on developing fundamental understanding of fire dynamics and resulting fire effects on fuels, vegetation, and wildlife with the goals of improving both the state of the science and its application to management.


  • Florida State University, Phd Tropical forest ecology, disturbance ecology, sustainable forestry, Yucatan Peninsula, 1998
  • Florida State University, Ms Community ecology, aquatic plant ecology, 1991
  • Texas A&M University , Marine Biology Coastal ecology, fish demography, fire ecology of salt marshes, sea turtle and marine mammal stranding, 1988

Professional Organizations

  • U.S. Forest Service (2013 - Current)
    Research advisor
  • International Association of Wildland Fire (2009 - Current)

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

Research Datasets

  • Reiner, Alicia L.; Ewell, Carol M.; Fites-Kaufman, Josephine A.; Dailey, Scott N.; Noonan-Wright, Erin K.; Norman, Tiffany P.; Vaillant, Nicole M.; Dickinson, Matthew B.; Morgan, Chelsea; Courson, Mark; Campbell, Mike. 2018. Fire Behavior Assessment Team: pre- and post-fire tree data, raw and processed. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.
  • Reiner, Alicia L.; Ewell, Carol M.; Fites-Kaufman, Josephine A.; Dailey, Scott N.; Noonan-Wright, Erin K.; Norman, Tiffany P.; Vaillant, Nicole M.; Dickinson, Matthew B.; Morgan, Chelsea; Courson, Mark; Campbell, Mike. 2018. Fire Behavior Assessment Team: plot location data. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.
  • Hudak, Andrew T.; Dickinson, Matthew B.; Rodriguez, Adrien J.; Bright, Benjamin C. 2016. RxCADRE 2012: Instrument and infrared target survey locations and attributes. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.
  • Hudak, Andrew T.; Bright, Benjamin C.; Kremens, Robert L.; Dickinson, Matthew B.; Alden, Matthew G. 2016. RxCADRE 2008: Wildfire Airborne Sensor Program - Lite uncalibrated long wave infrared image mosaics. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.
  • Dickinson, Matthew B.; Kremens, Robert L. 2015. RxCADRE 2008, 2011, and 2012: Radiometer data. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.

National Research Highlights

Testing the effects of species source on combustion properties of Ohio Hills fuel beds at the Forest Product Laboratory. Matthew B. Dickinson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Shift Toward Mesophytic Species in Oak Forests May Limit Fire Reintroduction

Year: 2016

Exclusion of fire from eastern mixed-oak forests is widely understood to be an important explanation for difficulty in regenerating oaks. Forest Service scientists studied whether the change in species composition of forest floor litter, as species composition shifts to more mesophytic and less fire tolerant species over time, could be a barrier to successful use of fire to restore oak ecosystems.

 The WFDS model was used to simulate the interaction between flame and stem and is being used to provide input data for a stem heating model (FireStem2D). Tony Bova, USDA Forest Service

More Realistic Model of Tree Trunk Heating and Injury in Wildland Fires Now Available

Year: 2013

Forest Service scientists developed new models of tree-stem heating that are the most physically realistic to date to predict tree mortality more accurately. Trees stems are heated unevenly in wildland fires because a standing-leeward flame develops as a result of the interaction of the bole and flame. Forest Service fire scientists and their research partners used the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fire Dynamics Simulator to describe uneven heating of the stem surface and the newly revised FireStem2D to simulate the resulting stem heating and injury.

Last modified: Tuesday, November 07, 2017