Tree biology and tree care

Research Issue

[photo:] Urban foresters compare notes on the health of a tree during a training session.

When it comes to managing trees and forests, tree care professionals have access to a wide variety of guidelines and treatments. However, they don’t always have the big picture of how treatments interact with each other, how specific treatments relate to tree biology, and how effective tree management in rural areas differs from tree management in urban areas.

Our Research

Northern Research Station scientists are addressing this need through extensive research and by creating practical, educational publications and presentations for urban tree care professionals. These cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • how trees collect and store energy, water, carbon dioxide and other chemical elements,
  • tree disease diagnosis and treatments,
  • soil biology,
  • recovering from crown injuries, and
  • tree care methods such as pruning, fertilization and stabilization.


These results inform foresters and land managers that northern hardwood trees and forests can quickly recover from crown injury if they are in good condition at the time of the storm.

Expected Outcomes

This research will improve the quality of tree care by providing a rational basis for choosing treatments for urban and community trees.

Research Results

Wiedenbeck, Jan; Smith, Kevin T. 2019. Hardwood management, tree wound response, and wood product value. The Forestry Chronicle. 94(3): 292-306.

Smith, Kevin T. 2018. Big trees, old trees, and growth factor tables. Tree Care Industry. 29(2): 36-38.

Smith, Kevin T. 2018. Tree disease and wood decay as agents of environmental and social change. In: Proceedings of the landscape disease symposium; 2018 January 16; Santa Paula, CA: Santa Paula, CA: University of California, Ventura County Cooperative Extension: 25-30.

Yang, Yang; Yanai, Ruth D.; Driscoll, Charles T.; Montesdeoca, Mario; Smith, Kevin T. 2018. Concentrations and content of mercury in bark, wood, and leaves in hardwoods and conifers in four forested sites in the northeastern USA. PLOS ONE. 13(4): e0196293-.

Millar, Constance I.; Smith, Kevin T. 2017. Reconsidering the process for bow-stave removal from juniper trees in the Great Basin. Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology. 37(2): 125-131.

Smith, Kevin T.; Glaeser, Jessie A. 2017. Wood decay and the cleanup crew. Tree Care Industry. 28 (6): 54-59.

Smith, Kevin T. 2016. Who fertilizes the forest?. The Landsculptor. January: 25-27.

Smith, Kevin T. 2015. Fire, ice, and metabolism. Tree Care Industry. 26(8): 28-32.

Smith, Kevin T. 2015. Tree recovery from ice storm injury. Ontario Arborist. February-March: 24-26.

Smith, Kevin T. 2014. Beneficial and harmful mushrooms in the landscape. The Landsculptor. October: 31-34.

Smith, Kevin T. 2014. Origin of buds, branches, and sprouts. Tree Care Industry. 25(5): 22-27.

Glaeser, Jessie A.; Smith, Kevin T. 2013. Decay fungi of riparian trees in the Southwestern U.S. Western Arborist. (Fall): 40-51.

Smith, Kevin T. 2013. Do you believe in palm trees?. Landscape Hawaii. January|February 2013: 14-16.

Smith, Kevin T.; Glaeser, Jessie A. 2013. Skeleton decay in red cedar. Arborist News. 22 (3): 32-34.Smith, Kevin T. 2013.

Smith, Kevin T. 2013. Phenology of slippery bark and common foliar diseases. Arboricultural Consultant. 46(2): 27-28.

Smith, Kevin T. 2013. What's bugging you—slime molds. Consulting Arborist. 46 (3): 21-23.

Smith, Kevin T. 2011. Tree rings and the local environment. Arborist News. 20(3): 12-15.

Glaeser, Jessie A.; Smith, Kevin T. 2010. Decay fungi of oaks and associated hardwoods for western arborists. Western Arborist. Winter 2010: 32-46.

Smith, Kevin T. 2010. Biogeochemistry and landscape fertility. The Landsculptor. February 2010: 43-45.

Smith, Kevin T. 2010. Humus and soil fertility. Tree Care Industry. 21(9): 28-31.

Smith, Kevin T. 2009. Are trees long-lived? Tree Care Industry Magazine. 20(7): 8-11.

Smith, Kevin T. 2009. Connections in wood and foliage. American Nurseryman. 3: 12,14.

Smith, Kevin T. 2009. Greenhouse warming and landscape care. Ecological Landscaper. 15(4): 6-7.

Smith, Kevin T. 2009. Keeping trees as assets. The Landsculptor. January. 33-36.

Smith, K.T. 2008. Disposable landscapes. The Landsculptor, February: 57-58.

Smith, K.T. 2007. Plants’ essential chemical elements. American Nurseryman 206 (10): 10-11.

Smith, K.T. 2005. Tree biology and problem trees. Arborist News 14 (2): 24-26.

Smith, K.T. 2005. Tree health and energy budgets. American Nurseryman 202 (5): 10.

Research Participants

Principal Investigators

  • Kevin T. Smith, US Forest Service- Northern Research Station, Plant Physiologist
  • Walter C. Shortle, US Forest Service- Northern Research Station, Research Plant Pathologist (retired)

Research Parthers


Last modified: May 6, 2019