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Hood, Sharon

Research Ecologist
Employee Role: 
Research Scientist
Phone Number: 
(406) 329-4818

RMRS Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory
5775 US Hwy 10 West
Missoula, MT 59808

Photo: Sharon Hood
  • PhD, Organismal Biology and Ecology, University of Montana
  • M.S., Forestry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • B.S., Forestry, Mississippi State University
Research topics: 
  • Fire-induced tree mortality
  • Fuel and silvicultural treatment effects
  • Tree defenses
  • Ecosystem resilience

Inside the Megafire | NOVA

Personal Summary: 

The primary focus of my research is on how fire affects trees and ultimately forest dynamics. My past and current research falls into three broad categories:

  1. What are the causes and mechanisms of postfire tree mortality? Surprisingly, tree death is still not well understood and therefore hampers efforts to accurately model and predict the impact of disturbance and climate change on tree mortality. My research seeks to understand fire-related factors leading to tree death and the causes of tree mortality. Currently, my research in this area focuses on the impacts of fire and climate on tree carbon allocation patterns to defense, storage, and growth to determine how allocation relates to tree mortality. 
  2. How do changes in fire regimes affect forest succession and forest resilience to climate change and future disturbance? Local fire regimes have been altered in many ecosystems due to direct and indirect anthropogenic activities. Changes in fire frequency and seasonality can cause shifts in species composition and fuel characteristics, which can then impact fire effects through associated changes in fire intensity. Most of my research in this area has focused on the impact of reducing fire frequency in fire-dependent ecosystems. This area of research also examines the effects of silvicultural and fuel treatments to increase understanding of treatment options that foster resilient forests. 
  3. What are the effects of fire on host tree susceptibility to bark beetle attack?  Fire can directly impact tree defense and carbon acquisition, which in turn, affects susceptibility to bark beetle attack. Yet fire also can affect stand-level and landscape-level processes such as nutrient and water availability and host tree location. My research examines how fire affects tree defense and ultimately influences the susceptibility of trees to bark beetle attack. Teasing apart the contribution of host tree defenses, stand-level processes, and regional-scale synchrony due to climate on bark beetle population regulation is critical to improve our understanding of outbreaks and how both climate change and management will affect forest susceptibility to bark beetles. 
Modified: Apr 26, 2021

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Sharon Hood's research is used by the Forest Service Northern Region to determine tree mortality after the 2017 wildfire season. This work is outlined in the Post-Fire Forest Management in the Northern Region storymap.

Check out this Research Highlight from the 2017 Association for Fire Ecology Congress about my research on fire and resistance to mountain pine beetle. 

Selected Publications since 2015:

For a complete list of publications, please see Sharon's Google scholar page.

Hood, Sharon M.; Varner, J. Morgan; van Mantgem, Phillip; Cansler, C. Alina. 2018. Fire and tree death: Understanding and improving modeling of fire-induced tree mortality. Environmental Research Letters. 13: 113004.

Hood S, Lutes D (2017) Predicting post-fire tree mortality for 12 western US conifers using the First-Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM). Fire Ecology 13:66-84

de la Mata R, Hood S, Sala A (2017) Insect outbreak shifts the direction of selection from fast to slow growth rates in the long-lived conifer Pinus ponderosa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 10.1073/pnas.1700032114

Clyatt KA, Keyes CR, Hood SM (2017) Long-term effects of fuel treatments on aboveground biomass accumulation in ponderosa pine forests of the northern Rocky Mountains. Forest Ecology and Management 400:587-599.

Grayson LM, Progar RA, Hood SM (2017) Predicting post-fire tree mortality for 14 conifers in the Pacific Northwest, USA: Model evaluation, development, and thresholds. Forest Ecology and Management 399:213-226

Hood, S., Baker, S. & Sala, A. (2016) Fortifying the Forest: Thinning and Burning Increase Resistance to a Bark Beetle Outbreak and Promote Forest Resilience. Ecological Applications, 26, 1984–2000.

Bentz, B.J., Hood, S.M., Hansen, E.M., Vandygriff, J.C. & Mock, K.E. (2016) Defense traits in the long-lived Great Basin bristlecone pine and resistance to the native herbivore mountain pine beetle. New Phytologist, 213, 611-624.

Hood, S., A. Sala. 2015. Ponderosa pine resin defenses and growth: metrics matter. Tree Physiology 35: 1223-1235.

Hood, S.M., Sala, A., Heyerdahl, E., Boutin, M. 2015. Low-Severity Fire Increases Tree Defense Against Bark Beetles Attack. Ecology 96:1846-1855.

Anderegg, W.R. L., J. A.Hicke, R. A. Fisher, C. D.Allen, J.Aukema, B. Bentz,S. Hood, J. Lichstein, A. Macalady, N. McDowell, Y. Pan, K.Raffa, A. Sala, J. Shaw, N. Stephenson, C. Tague, and M. Zeppel. 2015. Tree mortality from drought, insects,and their interactions in a changing climate. New Phytologist . doi: 10.1111/nph.13477