Franco Biondi

Professor, Ecoclimatology/Tree Rings
Franco biondi


I am a tree biologist with a specialty in dendroecology, which is the study of tree rings and wood formation to infer ecological changes. In collaboration with students and colleagues, I have studied tree-dominated landscapes in the Western USA, Mexico, and southern Europe. I am now involved in grant-funded projects aimed at understanding the environmental drivers of intra-annual tree-ring features. Studies performed by DendroLab personnel are focused on examining the connection between wood form and function in conifer species of the western US. We use automated point dendrometers, wood anatomy, and cellular phenology to uncover the exquisitely intricate connections between dendrochronology, wood science, tree physiology, forest ecology, mensuration, and allometry. These new activities also include domestic and international collaborations, the latter with scientists in Canada, Germany, France, Finland, Switzerland, and Italy.

My teaching responsibilities are closely tied to my research experience and interests. At UNR I have taught several courses, from introductory undergraduate classes to graduate seminars. I also developed, proposed, and established a few new classes on climate and environmental change.

Since 2010 I have served as Subject Matter Editor for Ecosphere, the open‐access journal published by the Ecological Society of America. I am also Specialty Chief Editor for the Paleoecology section of Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.


  • Physical Geography (GEOG 103; used to be called "Geography of the World's Environment"): Spring 2001, Spring 2002, Fall 2003, Fall 2004, Fall 2005, Spring 2008, Fall 2009
  • Climate Change and Its Environmental Impacts (GEOG/ATMS 121): Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015
  • Field Methods (GEOG 314): Fall 2001, Fall 2002, Fall 2004
  • Natural Resource Ecology (NRES 217): Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020
  • Understanding Climate (GEOG 321): Spring 2006, Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011
  • Regional and Global Issues in Environmental Sciences (ENV/NRES 467) Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020
  • Spatial Analysis (GEOG 416/616; used to be called "Spatial Analysis in Geography"): Spring 2001, Spring 2003, Spring 2005, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2016
  • Climatology (GEOG 421/621): Fall 2000, Spring 2002, Spring 2004
  • Geography of Past Environments (GEOG 437/637): Fall 2002, Spring 2010, Fall 2012
  • Geography Colloquium (GEOG 490/690): Spring 2012
  • Advanced Geography - Climatology (GEOG 701r): Fall 2005
  • Advanced Climatology (GEOG 721; used to be called "Seminar in Advanced Climatology" with the code GEOG 720): Fall 2001, Fall 2003, Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2016

Honors and Awards

  • 2020 Research and Innovation Leadership Fellow, University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2018 Haury Visiting Scholar, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, The University of Arizona, Tucson
  • 2017 Habilitation Committee Member, Fakultät Wissenschaftszentrum Weihenstephan für Ernährung, Landnutzung und Umwelt, Technische Universität München, Germany
  • 2015 Visiting Professor ("Poste Rouge"), Laboratoire d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement (EcoLab), Université Toulouse III , France
  • 2014 Bullard Visiting Fellow, Harvard Forest, Petersham, Massachusetts
  • 2013 Visiting Scientist, Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • 2013 CIRES Visiting Fellow, University of Colorado, Boulder
  • 2013 Participant in the Expert Witness Training Academy, William Mitchell College of Law, Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • 2011 Fulbright Senior Specialist in Environmental Science, University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy
  • 2008 Hyung K. Shin Award for Excellence in Research, College of Science, University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2008 Senior Ecologist, Ecological Society of America (ESA) Board of Professional Certification
  • 2008 Outstanding Researcher Award, Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno
  • 2007 Foreign Member of the PhD Program in "Scienze e Tecnologie per la Gestione Forestale e Ambientale", University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy
  • 2007 Blaustein Visiting Fellowship, Stanford University, School of Earth Sciences
  • 2007 Guest Professorship, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Chair of Forest Ecology
  • 2006 National Academy of Sciences Committee
  • 2002 NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award
  • 2001 AAG Paper of the Year Award
  • 1992 McGinnies Graduate Scholarship in Arid Lands Studies, University of Arizona
  • 1992 Andrew E. Douglass Scholarship, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona
  • 1985 Fulbright Award


My long-term goal is to understand drivers of tree and forest growth in current, past, and future environments. I pursue this goal using instrumental and proxy records (mostly from tree rings), with an emphasis on field observations, numerical calibration, and automated sensors to bridge temporal and spatial scales. My experience and interests are in climate and forest dynamics, particularly in mountain watersheds. This places my work at the intersection between ecology, climatology, biogeography, and hydrology.

My dissertation work on forest growth trends in Arizona had both regional and global relevance. Regionally, it provided evidence for the impact of fire suppression on the ecology of southwestern conifer forests, ultimately contributing to landscape conservation plans. Globally, it showed the importance of placing twentieth-century patterns into a longer historical perspective to disentangle the impact of land use changes (in this case, European settlement) from stand dynamics and other factors. From 1994 to 2000 I conducted research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography on past climate using proxy records from terrestrial tree rings and oceanic sediments (varves). At Scripps I also established a research program in dendroclimatology, and assembled the tree-ring laboratory that I then transferred to UNR. My recent studies deal with quantifying climate and tree growth variability from mountain ecosystems in the Great Basin of North America. Special emphasis is placed on understanding responses to disturbance (wildfire, land use changes) in relation to climate dynamics and to the distribution of woody species at the watershed level.

From 2008 to 2013 I was the statewide lead for the Ecological Change component of an NSF-EPSCoR project entitled “Nevada Infrastructure for Climate Change Science, Education and Outreach”, which was funded for a total of $15 million. As part of the research infrastructure funded by this large multi-investigator project, we established the Nevada Climate-ecohydrological Assessment Network (NevCan), which includes valley-to-peak instrumental transects designed to measure changes in atmospheric, hydrologic, and ecologic variables, including the spatial and temporal processes that control, and are recorded by, wood growth of lower and upper treeline species.


Laurea, University of Florence, Italy, 1985
M.S., University of Arizona, Tucson, 1987
Ph.D., University of Arizona, Tucson, 1994