MS/PhD position to evaluate and improve upon accuracy of tree biomass and carbon derived from allometric equations used by FIA.
Accurate forest biomass and carbon estimation are critical for forest management and decision-making for forest landowners. The USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program is the primary provider of state-, regional- and national-scale forest biomass and carbon inventories and estimates. Southern states are known as the wood baskets of the nation. However, estimates for a tree species in one region may differ notably from estimates of the same species in another region. One should realize that forest productivity and carbon sequestration rates on a particular site or region depend on tree species, age, environmental conditions (site productivity, temperature, precipitation), and management practices (harvesting time and density, irrigation, fertilization, thinning).
Allometric equations for individual trees are the foundation for mapping biomass across different spatial and organizational scales, including individual trees, stand, forest landowner, landscape, and region. However, the potentially-high uncertainty and bias associated with individual-tree allometric equations have been commonly ignored in mapping biomass. Individual tree-level error and bias of allometric equations vary dramatically with species, tree age/size, and disturbance/management history. Generally, local equations are the most accurate for forest landowners to estimate forest biomass and carbon. With significant variations in growth rates and allometric relationships between various tree species and management activities, the proposed work is to estimate forest biomass and carbon allocation between different above-ground parts of a tree, including the bole, bark, foliage, and branch. Specifically, we intend to estimate how tree species, stand origin (natural stand versus plantation) and age, planting density (spacing), harvesting intensity, and disturbances will affect local allometric relationships for biomass and carbon estimation and mapping.
This study will train two graduate students (a Ph. D and a MS). Besides graduate theses and dissertations, published journal articles, conference papers/presentations, and training materials for workshops and field tours that target to landowners will be generated.
The College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment (CFWE) at Auburn University has a two/three-year MS/PhD graduate assistantship starting from the spring or summer of 2023. Both field work and spatial technology (GIS/RS/GPS) and quantitative tools (statistical models) will be used to integrate remotely sensed data with site specific data to be collected during the project period
The CFWE will provide a graduate research assistantship, including a stipend of approximately US $18,000(MS) and 20,000 (PhD) annually and full tuition waiver. Students are also eligible to participate in the Graduate Student Health insurance plan (http://graduate.auburn.edu/graduate-student-health-insurance-program/). Individuals with degrees in forestry, natural resources, geosciences, and related areas with an experience in applying quantitative tools and spatial techniques to forestry and environmental problems are encouraged to apply.
Consideration of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Please send a cover letter that states your research interests, your curriculum vitae and transcript/course work, and the names and contact information for three references by email to Dr. Joseph Z. Fan (firstname.lastname@example.org).