Scientists & Staff

Todd Hutchinson

Research Ecologist
359 Main Road
Delaware, OH, 43015
Phone: 740-368-0064

Contact Todd Hutchinson

Current Research

My current research focuses on the sustainability, biodiversity, and fire ecology of mixed-oak forests. Field sites are located primarily in the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau of southern Ohio.

  • Long-term effects of prescribed fire. We are studying how repeated prescribed fires have altered the structure and regeneration of mixed-oak forests, over 13-years. We are particularly interested in how vegetation responds across the landscape and how fire has altered gap-phase regeneration. Collaborators: Elaine Kennedy Sutherland, Daniel Yaussy, Joanne Rebbeck, and Robert Long.
  • Fire and Fire Surrogates Study: We are documenting how fire and thinning, alone and in combination, alter forest structure, regeneration and the herbaceous-layer of mixed-oak forests. Collaborators: Daniel Yaussy, Louis Iverson, Brian McCarthy.
  • The use of shelterwood harvests, prescribed fire, and herbicides to promote oak regeneration. This study is investigating the use of spring growing-season fires and targeted herbicide application to improve the competitive status of oak regeneration in conjunction with shelterwood harvests. Collaborator: Joanne Rebbeck.
  • The invasive tree Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven) in a managed forest landscape. At Tar Hollow State Forest, we are studying 1) the distribution of Ailanthus in relation to landscape attributes, prescribed fire, and timber harvesting, and 2) the direct effects of fire on Ailanthus. Collaborators: Joanne Rebbeck, Louis Iverson, Daniel Yaussy.
  • Other ongoing studies:
    • A common garden study of how oak and maple litter affect fire behavior (collaborator: Matthew Dickinson).
    • Fire history of the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest (collaborators: Robert Long, Elaine Kennedy Sutherland).
    • The vascular flora of the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest: 50 years of change (collaborators: Marilyn Ortt, Richard Gardner).
    • Response of herbaceous communities in forests impacted by emerald ash borer (collaborators: Kathleen Knight, Alejandro Royo, Robert Long).

Research Interests

Future potential research projects include:

  • Predictive mapping of presettlement vegetation in southern Ohio (collaborator: James Dyer)
  • 70-years of forest change in Neotoma, Hocking Hills, Ohio (collaborator: Ralph Boerner).
  • Competitive interactions between sassafras and oak in response to fire and partial harvesting (collaborator: Joanne Rebbeck)


  • Ohio State University, Ph.D. Ecology,
  • Miami University, M.S. Botany,
  • University of Louisville, B.A. Biology,

Professional Organizations

  • Ecological Society of America
  • Torrey Botanical Society
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF)

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Ash trees.

Understanding Long-Term Impacts of an Invasive, Tree-Killing Pest

Year: 2019

The emerald ash borer has been killing ash trees in the United States for more than two decades. What does that mean for ash populations and the forest ecosystems? Long-term monitoring plot data collected by USDA Forest Service scientists and partners is helping to elucidate the impacts of this invasive pest and to plan management and conservation strategies.

A cross-section of a fire-scarred yellow pine, collected at Shawnee State Forest, Ohio.  This tree established in 1865 and had seven fire scars, indicated by arrows, dating from 1888 to 1941.

Insights from a 250-year history of fire in the Appalachian Plateau of Ohio and Kentucky

Year: 2017

In many eastern U.S. forests, undesirable shifts in tree species abundance are occurring. For oaks and pines, it is widely believed that the decreased frequency of fire over the last 75-100 years has played a major role in their decline.

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.

Tree regeneration 5 years after herciide treatment and shelterwood harvest. USDA Forest Service.

The Devil is in the Details for Regeneration Success in Mixed-oak Forests

Year: 2015

To improve oak regeneration, Forest Service scientists are studying shelterwood harvest with herbicide and prescribed fire treatments. Although large oak seedlings have developed after the partial harvest, competition from non-oak saplings is intense even after herbicide treatment. The combined use of herbicide and fire is being evaluated.

Repeated prescribed fires may improve the regeneration potential of oak in canopy gaps. Forest Service

Repeated Prescribed Fires Help Sustain Oak Regeneration in Eastern Forests

Year: 2012

Research findings can help managers in their quest to sustain this forest type throughout Eastern North America

Last modified: Tuesday, September 22, 2020