Scientists & Staff

Walter Shortle

Senior Research Plant Pathologist
271 Mast Road
Durham, NH, 03824
Phone: 603-868-7620

Contact Walter Shortle

Current Research

My research is focused on three areas,
  1. wood-destroying diseases initiated by wounds and tree response to limit the spread of wood-destroying infections following wounding,
  2. the use of dendrochemical markers to detect and date major changes in root-zone chemistry related to acid deposition and other environmental perturbations, and
  3. the role of wood-destroying fungi in the biogeochemical cycling of calcium, a key element for regulating stability of the forest ecosystem.

Research Interests

  • Improve concepts and methods of tree ring chemistry to better understand the impacts of land use, climate change and disturbance on trees.
  • Develop indicators of physiological processes that contribute to tree mortality or recovery following disturbance or injury.
  • Improve ways to communicate research findings derived from the study of tree biology and chemistry to foresters, loggers, wood technologists, and environmental scientists.

Why This Research is Important

Studying the response of trees to wounding and subsequent infection in a changing environment is necessary to understand the impact of major wounding events, e.g. storms, fire, harvesting, on tree survival, growth, and wood quality. We lack information about the factors that promote or prevent a strong response essential for tree health, productivity, and longevity. Dendrochemistry (chemistry of precisely dated tree rings) offers a way of inferring environmental changes in the rooting zone of mature forest trees where no other records exist so that remedial actions can be planned. Part of remediation may involve replacement of depleted nutrients in which wood-decay fungi appear to play a significant role so that sufficient essential elements are made available for tree growth and carbon sequestration.


  • North Carolina State University, Raleigh, Ph.D. Plant Pathology, 1974
  • University of New Hampshire, Durham, M.S. Botany, 1970
  • University of New Hampshire, Durham, B.S. Botany, 1968

Professional Organizations

  • American Chemical Society
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Phytopathological Society
  • International Association of Wood Anatomists
  • Society of Wood Science and Technology (SWST)

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Last modified: Monday, December 11, 2017