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His LTER research addresses the controls over successional changes in vegetation and nutrient cycling. In particular, he is interested in the mechanisms of resilience of a given successional trajectory (e.g., as a result of post-fire seed supply) and the triggers for change (e.g. establishment of new species under certain circumstances).
In addition to His work in LTER, he directs a graduate educational program in Resilience and Adaptation and extends his interests in post-fire succession to human-fire interactions in the boreal forest.
The central focus of his research is the study of the resilience of regional systems in the face of directional changes in climate, economics, and culture. He believes this is one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity: How do we sustain the desirable features of Earth's ecosystems and society at a time of rapid changes in all of the major forces that govern their properties? This requires an understanding of the mechanisms that tend to maintain the system in its current state vs. factors that cause changes to a new state. It also requires an integration of natural and social sciences because many of the drivers of change involve social-ecological interactions.