Researching how and why forests change
John Battles, a professor of forest ecology in the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley, has spent the past two decades studying the many forces threatening California’s forests.
The goal of his research program is to know how and why forests change. Battles’ efforts are guided by the conviction that our understanding must apply to specific forests with all the attendant complexities and idiosyncrasies. Thus robust, quantitative field studies form the core of his approach. Answering these questions is more than just an interesting academic puzzle. As a result of human enterprise (e.g., pollution, land transformations, biotic additions and losses), many forest ecosystems will experience fundamentally novel challenges. In the face of this uncertainty, Battles argues need to understand the dynamics well enough to anticipate the likely direction and magnitude of responses.