Thomas T. Veblen

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Thomas Thorstein Veblen (born 15 November 1947) is an American forest ecologist and physical geographer known for his work on the ecology of Nothofagus (southern beech) forests in the Southern Hemisphere and on the ecology of conifer forests in the southern Rocky Mountains of the U.S.A. He is an Arts and Sciences College Professor of Distinction at University of Colorado at Boulder, USA (2006).



Veblen’s research focuses on disturbance ecology in the contexts of climate change and human impacts on temperate forest ecosystems in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. From 1975-79 he was professor of plant ecology in the Forestry School of the Austral University in Valdivia, Chile where he initiated pioneering research on the disturbance ecology and regeneration dynamics of Nothofagus forests. One of his early achievements was the unravelling of how repeated coarse-scale disturbances related mostly to tectonic events control the dynamics of forests in the Andes of southern Chile. [1] His early work developed a conceptual framework which was seminal to the shift from equilibrium to non-equilibrium paradigms in ecology in the 1980s. His early work defined a research agenda for multiple generations of forest ecologists in southern Chile and Argentina including many internationally recognized research leaders who completed their doctoral training with Veblen. [2] His continuing work in the forests of Patagonian Chile and Argentina examines climatic influences on wildfire activity and the effects of introduced mammals on vegetation responses to fire. [3]

In the U.S. Rocky Mountains Veblen has published on the roles of wildfire, bark beetle outbreaks, and wind storms in the dynamics of conifer forests. [4] [5] He published one of the first quantitative studies of interacting disturbance by wildfire, snow avalanches, and bark beetle outbreaks. [6] Using tree ring methods he and his students have reconstructed multi-century records of bark beetle outbreaks and wildfires and related them to interannual climatic variability. [7] [8]

Professor Veblen held a postdoc fellowship with the Forest Research Institute of New Zealand from 1979 to 1981 where he conducted research on the disturbance ecology of beech and conifer forests and the effects of introduced mammals on tree mortality and regeneration in collaboration with Dr. Glenn H. Stewart of the Forest Research Institute. Their papers published in the early 1980s were pivotal to the adoption of non-equilibrium paradigms in plant ecology in New Zealand. [9] [10]

Honours and Awards

In 1985 Veblen was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. Since 1991 Veblen is Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. [11] In 1992 Veblen received an Honors in Research Award from the Association of American Geographers. In 2000, Veblen was the recipient of a "Carl O. Sauer Distinguished Scholar Award". [12] In 2008 Veblen was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. [13] [14] In 2017 Veblen received the title of Distinguished Professor, the highest honor bestowed by the University of Colorado on its faculty. [15]


Veblen was a co-editor of The Ecology and Biogeography of Nothofagus Forests, a book published by Yale University Press in March 1996. [16]

Related Research Articles

<i>Araucaria araucana</i> Chilean/Argentine pine tree

Araucaria araucana is an evergreen tree growing to 1–1.5 m (3–5 ft) in diameter and 30–40 m (100–130 ft) in height. It is native to central and southern Chile and western Argentina. Araucaria araucana is the hardiest species in the conifer genus Araucaria. Because of the prevalence of similar species in ancient prehistory, it is sometimes called a living fossil. It is also the national tree of Chile. Its conservation status was changed to Endangered by the IUCN in 2013 due to the dwindling population caused by logging, forest fires, and grazing.

Tree line Edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing

The tree line is the edge of the habitat at which trees are capable of growing. It is found at high elevations and high latitudes. Beyond the tree line, trees cannot tolerate the environmental conditions. The tree line is sometimes distinguished from a lower timberline or forest line, which is the line below which trees form a forest with a closed canopy.

<i>Nothofagus</i> Genus of plants

Nothofagus, also known as the southern beeches, is a genus of 43 species of trees and shrubs native to the Southern Hemisphere in southern South America and Australasia. The species are ecological dominants in many temperate forests in these regions. Some species are reportedly naturalised in Germany and Great Britain. The genus has a rich fossil record of leaves, cupules, and pollen, with fossils extending into the late Cretaceous period and occurring in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, and South America. In the past, they were included in the family Fagaceae, but genetic tests revealed them to be genetically distinct, and they are now included in their own family, Nothofagaceae.

<i>Pinus contorta</i> Species of plant

Pinus contorta, with the common names lodgepole pine and shore pine, and also known as twisted pine, and contorta pine, is a common tree in western North America. It is common near the ocean shore and in dry montane forests to the subalpine, but is rare in lowland rain forests. Like all pines, it is an evergreen conifer.

<i>Fitzroya</i> Species of plant

Fitzroya is a monotypic genus in the cypress family. The single living species, Fitzroya cupressoides, is a tall, long-lived conifer native to the Andes mountains of southern Chile and Argentina, where it is an important member of the Valdivian temperate rain forests. Common names include alerce, lahuán, and Patagonian cypress. The genus was named in honour of Robert FitzRoy.

Coarse woody debris

Coarse woody debris (CWD) or coarse woody habitat (CWH) refers to fallen dead trees and the remains of large branches on the ground in forests and in rivers or wetlands. A dead standing tree – known as a snag – provides many of the same functions as coarse woody debris. The minimum size required for woody debris to be defined as "coarse" varies by author, ranging from 2.5–20 cm (1–8 in) in diameter.

Bark beetle Subfamily of beetles

A bark beetle is one of about 6,000 species in 247 genera of beetles in the subfamily Scolytinae. Previously, this was considered a distinct family (Scolytidae), but is now understood to be a specialized clade of the "true weevil" family (Curculionidae). Although the term "bark beetle" refers to the fact that many species feed in the inner bark (phloem) layer of trees, the subfamily also has many species with other lifestyles, including some that bore into wood, feed in fruit and seeds, or tunnel into herbaceous plants. Well-known species are members of the type genus Scolytus, namely the European elm bark beetle S. multistriatus and the large elm bark beetle S. scolytus, which like the American elm bark beetle Hylurgopinus rufipes, transmit Dutch elm disease fungi (Ophiostoma). The mountain pine beetle Dendroctonus ponderosae, southern pine beetle Dendroctonus frontalis, and their near relatives are major pests of conifer forests in North America. A similarly aggressive species in Europe is the spruce ips Ips typographus. A tiny bark beetle, the coffee berry borer, Hypothenemus hampei is a major pest on coffee plantations around the world.

Snag (ecology)

In forest ecology, a snag refers to a standing, dead or dying tree, often missing a top or most of the smaller branches. In freshwater ecology it refers to trees, branches, and other pieces of naturally occurring wood found sunken in rivers and streams; it is also known as coarse woody debris. When used in manufacturing, especially in Scandinavia, they are often called "dead wood" and in Finland "kelo wood".

American three-toed woodpecker Species of bird

The American three-toed woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker, which is native to North America.

Disturbance (ecology)

In ecology, a disturbance is a temporary change in environmental conditions that causes a pronounced change in an ecosystem. Disturbances often act quickly and with great effect, to alter the physical structure or arrangement of biotic and abiotic elements. A disturbance can also occur over a long period of time and can impact the biodiversity within an ecosystem.

Thomas W. Swetnam is Regents' Professor Emeritus of Dendrochronology at the University of Arizona, studying disturbances of forest ecosystems across temporal and spatial scales. He served as the Director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research from 2000 to 2015.

<i>Drimys winteri</i> Species of plant

Drimys winteri, the winter's bark or canelo, is a slender tree in the family Winteraceae, growing up to 20 m (66 ft) tall. It is native to the Magellanic and Valdivian temperate rain forests of Chile and Argentina, where it is a dominant tree in the coastal evergreen forests. It is found below 1,200 m (3,937 ft) between latitude 32° south and Cape Horn at latitude 56°. In its southernmost natural range it can tolerate temperatures down to −20 °C (−4 °F). The plant is renowned for its ecological plasticity being able to grow in different sites from "extreme arid zones to wetlands along Chile". The tree does also grow in places with various types and degrees of competition from other plants.

Zona Sur

The Zona Sur is one of the five natural regions on which CORFO divided continental Chile in 1950. Its northern border is formed by the Bío-Bío River, the limit with the Central Chile Zone. By west with the Pacific Ocean, by the east with the Andean mountains and Argentina. Its southern border is the Chacao Channel, beyond it lies the Austral Zone. While Chiloé Archipelago belongs geographically to Zona Austral in terms of culture and history it lies closer to Zona Sur.

Sierra Nevada subalpine zone

The Sierra Nevada subalpine zone refers to a biotic zone below treeline in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California, United States. This subalpine zone is positioned between the upper montane zone at its lower limit, and tree line at its upper limit.

<i>Gevuina</i> Species of plant

Gevuina avellana is an evergreen tree, up to 20 meters tall. It is the only species currently classified in the genus Gevuina. It is native to southern Chile and adjacent valleys in Argentina. It is found from sea level to 700 meters above sea level. Its distribution extends from 35° to 44° south latitude. The composite leaves are bright green and toothed, and the tree is in flower between July and November. The flowers are very small and beige to whitish, are bisexual and group two by two in long racemes. The fruit is a dark red nut when young and turns black. The peel is woody. It can grow up straight or branched from the soil, making up either a tree or a shrub.

Rucamanque is a property owned by the Universidad de La Frontera in Chile, with a total area of 435.1 hectares, that is used for research, environmental education, and conservation. Rucamanque is located in south-central Chile, at 376 m of altitude, County of Temuco, Cautın, IX Region, Chile.

Snowbank fungus Species of fungus

A snowbank fungus is any one of a number of diverse species of fungi that occur adjacent to or within melting snow. They are most commonly found in the mountains of western North America where a deep snowpack accumulates during the winter and slowly melts through the spring and summer, often shaded by coniferous forest. They may be saprotrophic, mycorrhizal, or in the case of Caloscypha fulgens, pathogenic.

Complex early seral forest Type of ecosystem present after a major disturbance

Complex early seral forests, or snag forests, are ecosystems that occupy potentially forested sites after a stand-replacement disturbance and before re-establishment of a closed forest canopy. They are generated by natural disturbances such as wildfire or insect outbreaks that reset ecological succession processes and follow a pathway that is influenced by biological legacies that were not removed during the initial disturbance. Complex early seral forests develop with rich biodiversity because the remaining biomass provides resources to many life forms and because of habitat heterogeneity provided by the disturbances that generated them. In this and other ways, complex early seral forests differ from simplified early successional forests created by logging. Complex early seral forest habitat is threatened from fire suppression, thinning, and post-fire or post-insect outbreak logging.

Maulino forest

Maulino forest is a forest type naturally growing in the Chilean Coast Range of Central Chile from latitude 35°55 to 36°20 S. The chief tree species is Nothofagus glauca. Other tree species include Nothofagus leonii, Nothofagus alessandri and Gomortega keule. The forest grows at a transition zone between Mediterranean climate to humid temperate climate. Precipitations vary from 1000 to 700 mm/a and are concentrated in winter. According to geographers Humberto Fuenzalida and Edmundo Pisano the forest is one of mesophytes on the transition zone of temperate rain forests.

Tania Schoennagel is an ecologist who specializes in wildfires and insect outbreaks. She is a research scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder and has been involved with INSTAAR since 2011.


  1. Veblen, Thomas; Donoso, Claudio; Schlegel, Federico; Escobar, Bernardo (1981). "Forest dynamics in south central Chile". Journal of Biogeography. 8 (3): 211–247. doi:10.2307/2844678. JSTOR   2844678.
  2. González, M.E., M. Amoroso, A. Lara, T.T. Veblen, C. Donoso, T. Kitzberger, I. Mundo, A. Holz, A. Casteller, J. Paritsis, A. Muñoz, M. L. Suárez. 2014. Ecología de disturbios y su influencia en los bosques templados de Chile y Argentina. Pages 411-502 in C. Donoso, M. E. González, A. Lara (eds). Ecología Forestal. Bases para el Manejo Sustentable y Conservación de los Bosques Nativos de Chile. Ediciones de La Universidad Austral de Chile, Valdivia.
  3. Veblen, T.T.; Holz, A.H.; Paritsis, J.; Raffaele, E.; Kitzberger, T.; Blackhall, M. (2011). "Adapting to global environmental change in Patagonia: What role for disturbance ecology?". Austral Ecology. 36 (8): 891–903. doi:10.1111/j.1442-9993.2010.02236.x.
  4. Veblen, T.T.; Hadley, K.S.; Reid, M.S.; Rebertus, A.J. (1991). "The response of subalpine forests to spruce beetle outbreak in Colorado". Ecology. 72 (1): 213–231. doi:10.2307/1938916. JSTOR   1938916.
  5. Veblen, T.T.; Kulakowski, D.; Eisenhart, K.S.; Baker, W.L. (2001). "Subalpine forest damage from a severe windstorm in northern Colorado". Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 31 (12): 2089–2097. doi:10.1139/cjfr-31-12-2089.
  6. Veblen, T.T.; Hadley, K.S.; Nel, E.M.; Kitzberger, T.; Reid, M.; Villalba, R. (1994). "Disturbance regime and disturbance interactions in a Rocky Mountain subalpine forest". Journal of Ecology. 82 (1): 125–135. doi:10.2307/2261392. JSTOR   2261392.
  7. Veblen, T. T.; Kitzberger, T.; Donnegan, J. (2000). "Climatic and human influences on fire regimes in ponderosa pine forests in the Colorado Front Range". Ecological Applications. 10 (4): 1178–1195. doi:10.2307/2641025. JSTOR   2641025.
  8. Hart, S.J.; Veblen, T.T.; Eisenhart, K.S.; Jarvis, D.; Kulakowski, D. (2014). "Drought induces spruce beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) outbreaks across northwestern Colorado". Ecology. 95 (4): 930–939. doi:10.1890/13-0230.1. PMID   24933812.
  9. Veblen, T. T.; Stewart, G. H. (1982). "On the conifer regeneration gap in New Zealand: the dynamics of Libocedrus bidwillii stands on South Island". Journal of Ecology. 70 (2): 413–436. doi:10.2307/2259912. JSTOR   2259912.
  10. Veblen, T. T.; Stewart, G. H. (1982). "The effects of introduced wild animals on New Zealand forests". Annals of the Association of American Geographers. 72 (3): 372–397. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8306.1982.tb01832.x.
  11. "List of Current Honorary Fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand". The Royal Society of New Zealand. Royal Society of New Zealand . Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  12. Young, Kenneth R (2002). "Thomas T. Veblen: Recipient of the 2000 Carl O. Sauer Distinguished Scholar Award" (PDF). The Journal of Latin American Geography . Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  13. People on the move, Denver Post, December 30, 2008. Accessed November 10, 2015
  14. AAAS Fellows for 2008, American Association for the Advancement of Science. Accessed November 10, 2015
  16. "Yale University Press - The Ecology and Biogeography of Nothofagus Forests". Yale University Press . Retrieved 9 November 2015.