To me, ecohydrology can be defined as the study of water as it relates to living environments. Of course, this means that much of hydrology overlaps with ecohydrology, and thus the term “ecohydrologist” often says very little about someone’s topic of study. Regardless of what “ecohydrology” does communicate, in practice, the ecohydrology community seems to collect researchers that share interests in tackling diverse interdisciplinary environmental questions. It’s interesting and exciting to be part of a community where our backgrounds and interests diverge so strongly.
What are your undergraduate and graduate degrees in?
As an undergrad at the University of Maryland, I spent three years in a civil / construction engineering program, and then another year and a half studying biogeography and climate science, which (somehow) resulted in a degree in Environmental Science from the College of Behavior and Social Science. I received my MS degree in Water Resource Engineering while in the Forest Ecosystems and Society department at Oregon State University. Then I received my PhD in Renewable Natural Resources with a concentration in watershed science from Louisiana State University.
How did you arrive at working in/thinking about ecohydrology?
There was no single epiphany that led me to ecohydrology. I became interested in forests and drought while working for the US forest service in summers when I was in college. That experience led to me transitioning from engineering to environmental science. Then in ecology and climate-science classes, sections on physiological ecology and vegetation-climate interactions fascinated me. I had no idea what I was looking for when I applied to MS programs, but when I received the offer to study forest ecohydrology at Oregon State, I knew that was what I wanted to do.
What do you see as an important emerging area of ecohydrology?
I think we need to better understand vegetation’s role in the restoration of water provisioning by degraded landscapes, although this area of research is more timeless than it is “emerging”. We know that (often-anthropogenic) disturbances reduce soil infiltration and storage capacity, altering the timing and size of flows. It is well known that this timing is modified by plants because infiltration and storage capacity increase as roots establish; however, the controls over that hydrologic recovery are not well understood. For example, I think that several recent papers on degraded tropical ecosystems (by van Meerveld, Bruijnzeel and others) are crucial for not only advancing our basic understanding, but also for managing environmental resources and protecting vulnerable livelihoods.
Do you have a favorite ecohydrology paper? Describe/explain.
Jarvis and McNaughton’s “Stomatal Control of Transpiration: Scaling up from leaf to region” (1986) was pivotal for my thinking on the feedbacks between transpiration and vapor pressure. It provides a great discussion on the interactions between transpiration and evaporative demand across various boundary layers. Also, many papers about forest resource use efficiency by Dan Binkley and colleagues have been crucial in shaping my perspectives on the relationship between energy, structure, and growth.
What do you do for fun (apart from ecohydrology)?
I like woodworking – some sculpture, but I most enjoy making furniture out some odd scavenged logs, using a chainsaw, planer, and belt sander.