Forests are the dominant land use in the United States,
occupying almost 304 million hectares (750 million acres), fully a
third of the nation's area. Forest ecosystems serve many ecological
roles, including regulation of the planet's carbon and water cycles.
Forests are also important components of economic systems. In Florida,
forest products are the most important agricultural commodity, contributing
over $12 billion per year to the state's economy. Research in the
Forest Ecophysiology Lab is intended to produce biological knowledge that
can be used to better manage forest resources for sustainable production
of economic and non-economic values.
The forest ecophysiology research program focuses on
quantifying physiological and structural controls over carbon and
water fluxes in forest trees and forest ecosystems. The overarching
goal is to quantify the influence of genetics, climate, environmental
stresses, and forest management inputs on forest productivity and carbon
sequestration, and to understand the physiological mechanisms underlying
these responses. Research efforts are concentrated in three
areas: (1) biological responses to the environment and to management actions; (2) influence
of stand development on forest structure and function; and (3) physiological
genetics. Much of the recent work in the lab is focused on regional research initatives in important southern pine species.