Three students awarded prizes from the Society of American Foresters

Three students from the School of Forestry & Environmental Policy were awarded prizes for their research at the Society of American Foresters’ national conference in October.

Marlyse Duguid, M.F. ’10, Ph.D. ’16, and Kristofer Covey, M.F. ’10, Ph.D. ’15, won first and third prize, respectively, for their presentations, and Jon Sullivan, M.F. ’13, won the top prize for student posters.

The society’s Forest Science & Technology Board presents awards to student speakers and posters at the annual convention to promote the dissemination of research and to encourage student participation in the society. At the October convention, there were 43 posters and 21 presentations.

“The fact that three out of the six prizes available to students at the national convention were awarded to F&ES students is a statement about the strength of our program,” said Mark Ashton, the Morris K. Jesup Professor of Silviculture and Forest Ecology. “All three students presented their work in a very professional manner. I am very proud of them.”

In her research, Duguid examines plant diversity in several different forest types in southern New England and how it responds to varying intensities of disturbance. She said there is increasing concern about harvesting’s impact on an understory’s plant diversity and on the range of goods and services forests provide.

“The interesting thing is that understory plant diversity differs in its ability to recover from disturbance depending on the soil type,” said Duguid. “Resource managers should consider the site and ground-story plant diversity when planning silvicultural treatments.”

Covey’s research has found that diseased trees in forests may be a significant new source of methane that causes climate change. He sampled 60 trees at Yale Myers Forest that contained concentrations of methane as high as 80,000 times ambient levels. Normal air concentrations are less than 2 parts per million, but he found average levels of 15,000 parts per million inside trees.

“These are flammable concentrations,” said Covey. “Because the conditions thought to be driving this process are common throughout the world’s forests, we believe we have found a globally significant new source of this potent greenhouse gas.”

Sullivan’s poster, “Market Potential of Bamboo as a Biomass Material in the United States,” asserts that bamboo’s short maturation, its ability to rehabilitate degraded land and absorb carbon dioxide, and its hardiness make it an attractive investment. The United States is the second-largest importer of bamboo products for an array of fiber and construction materials.  

“The most promising region for investment in bamboo is in the Southeast where an ideal subtropical climate exists,” said Sullivan, whose poster abstract will be published in the Journal of Forestry.

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