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Kerry Metlen, Ph.D.

Forest Ecologist

Ashland, OR

Headshot of Kerry Metlen.

Kerry Metlen Kerry Metlen, Forest Ecologist © Kerry Metlen


Community ecology, Fire ecology, Climate change, Forest ecology

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Kate Natoli
ph. 971-275-2182


As forest ecologist for the Conservancy, Kerry works with partners from many organizations to protect biodiversity, and build understanding of the value that diverse, natural landscapes deliver to human well-being. Working with the national Fire and Fire Surrogate Study provided him with a deep appreciation for the restoration potential of ecological thinning and managed fire in fire dependent forests. In particular, he was galvanized by the transformative effects that reducing the number of conifers and reintroducing fire had on native plant diversity and vigor.

Kerry’s dissertation delved deeply into basic science, developing fundamental understanding of how ecological communities function. His research specifically investigated the role of plant behavioral responses to changing conditions and shifting competitive and facilitative interactions among species in pine woodlands of Montana. The broad scientific skill sets developed in this academic setting now enable productive engagement across many organizations and disciplines in the conservation world.

Forest restoration, climate change adaptation, wildfire risk management, and sustaining natural and human communities of the American west are the focus of Kerry’s work in Oregon. He currently leads the multiparty monitoring of the Ashland Forest Resiliency Stewardship Project (see the website), a cutting edge restoration project that protects drinking water, late successional forest, human fire safety, Northern Spotted Owl and pacific fisher habitat, while restoring natural communities that require frequent fire. Through careful application of stewardship and deliberate outreach this project has grown support for landscape scale forest restoration and the project has expanded from the initial federal footprint to the Ashland All-lands Restoration Project.

Attempting to learn from the Ashland project, Kerry is strategically planning with partners to realize a cohesive forest restoration strategy for the 4.6 million acre Rogue River Basin of southwestern Oregon. This project integrates multiple perspectives, analytical tools, and social processes. Together, partners are setting a conservation vision for the forests and people of the Rogue Basin. The work across the Rogue Basin will restore good fire to mixed conifer hardwood forests and oak woodlands that characterize this incredibly diverse landscape.

Kerry is fascinated by applying fundamental ecological principles to the applied questions that underpin forest conservation. He is a core member of several collaborative technical working groups, coordinates multiparty monitoring for the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project, conducts research on reference forest conditions in mixed conifer/hardwood forests, and supports the Conservancy’s Forest Team. He earned an M.S. from the University of Montana's College of Forestry and Conservation in 2002 while working as part of the Fire and Fire Surrogates project to understand understory responses to forest thinning and fire.

His dissertation work at the Division of Biological Sciences, also at UM, focused on interactions among native and exotic plant species and their implications for exotic plant invasion. Linking mechanistic ecological understanding to landscape restoration approaches that benefit natural and human communities has been his job with the Conservancy since 2010.

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Visit Kerry’s Google Scholar Profile for a full list of publications.


Halofsky, J.E.; D.L. Peterson; K.L. Metlen; M.G. Myer; V.A. Sample. 2016. Developing and implementing climate change adaptation options in forest ecosystems: A case study in southwestern Oregon, USA. Forests 7:1-18.

Metlen, K.L.; D. Olson; K. Perchemlides; M. Morison; D. Borgias. 2016. Table Rocks oak and vernal pool habitats assessment. Bureau of Land Management, Medford District.

Metlen, K.L.; D. Borgias; C. Skinner. 2016. Historical fire frequency in the Rogue Basin. Page Appendix in D. Thorpe, editor. Boot Prints: A centennial summary of activities and events of Oregon's Department of Forestry in Jackson and Josephine Counties. Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District, Central Point, OR.


Metlen, K. L.; D. Borgias; A. Jones; G. McKinley; D. Olson; E. Reilly; C. Zanger. 2015. Rogue Basin Cohesive Forest Restoration Strategy: A Collaborative Vision for Resilient Landscapes and Fire Adapted Communities v.1. The Nature Conservancy, Portland, OR.

Metlen, K.L.; Callaway, R.M. 2015. Native North American pine attenuates the competitive effects of a European invader on native grasses. Biological Invasions 17:1227-1237. 


Metlen, K.L.; E.T. Aschehoug; R.M. Callaway. 2013. Competitive outcomes between two exotic invaders are modified by direct and indirect effects of a native conifer. Oikos 122:632-640.

Fiedler, C.E.; E.K. Dodson; K.L. Metlen. 2013. Invasive Plant Response to Forest Disturbance in the Western United States. In: Invasive Plant Ecology (eds S. Jose; H. Singh; D. Batish; R. Kohli). CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.


Fiedler, C.E.; K.L. Metlen; Dodson, E.K. 2010. Restoration treatment effects on stand structure, tree growth, and fire hazard in a ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir forest in Montana. Forest Science 56:18-31.


Metlen, K.L.; E.T. Aschehoug; R.M. Callaway. 2009. Plant behavioral ecology: dynamic plasticity in secondary metabolites. Plant Cell and Environment 32:641-653.

Stephens, S.L.; J.J. Moghaddas; C. Edminster; C.E. Fiedler; S. Haase; M. Harrington; J.E. Keeley; E.E. Knapp; J.D. McIver; K.L. Metlen; C.N. Skinner; A. Youngblood. 2009. Fire treatment effects on vegetation structure, fuels, and potential fire severity in western U.S. forests. Ecological Applications 19:305-320.


Dodson, E.K.; K.L. Metlen; C.E. Fiedler. 2007. Locally rare understory species benefit from restoration treatments in ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir forests, Montana. Restoration Ecology 15:696-708.


Metlen, K.L.; C.E. Fiedler. 2006. Restoration treatment effects on the understory of ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir forests in western Montana, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 222: 355-369.


Metlen, K.L.; C.E. Fiedler; A. Youngblood. 2004. Understory response to fuel reduction treatments in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon. Northwest Science 78:175-185.