Sarah Bisbing

Assistant Professor, Forest Ecology
Sarah Bisbing, Ph.D., University of Nevada, Reno

Contact Information


  • B.S. University of Montana, 2005
  • M.S. University of Montana, 2008
  • Ph.D. Colorado State University, 2013

Research Interest

My primary areas of specialization are forest ecology and silviculture, and my research evaluates forest compositional and structural responses to silvicultural treatment, interacting disturbances, and ongoing climate change. I am particularly interested in how species’ adaptations shape the forest community, stand dynamics, and associated ecosystem services. My research program is designed to support scientifically based management and conservation that increases the sustainability and resiliency of forest ecosystems. I focus my work around fundamental gaps in ecological knowledge that are critical to understanding the consequences of changing climate and altered disturbance regimes on western forests. I use observational, experimental, and long-term studies to address these knowledge gaps.

Projects are currently underway on a gradient of landscape scales, from a local study of salvage logging impacts on conifer regeneration to a range-wide study of coast redwood resilience to compound disturbances. Many of these projects include a permanent plot network that will facilitate long-term monitoring of forest ecosystem change over time. We work closely with local land managers and researchers to identify the gaps in knowledge necessary for management and conservation of forest ecosystems.In the mixed-conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada, for example, my lab is studying the influence of historic, current, and future disturbances on demographic patterns and forest community composition by:

  1. utilizing historic datasets to evaluate the competitive effects of post- harvest shrub communities on conifer seedling success,
  2. pairing treated and untreated stands to track stand dynamics under ongoing extreme drought mortality and bark beetle attack, and
  3. experimentally manipulating temperature, moisture, and growing season length to identify thresholds of tolerance in conifer seedling survival under predicted future climate condition.

These projects are executed through a close partnership with the USDA Pacific Southwest (PSW) Research Station, the Sierra National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and Southern California Edison. Research is driven by the need for an understanding of the role that species’ adaptations and novel disturbances play in determining establishment and success of ecologically and economically important conifers.


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