Tara L. Bal

Tara L. Bal


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  • Research Assistant Professor, SFRES
  • Master of Forestry Degree Program Director
  • Certified Forester, Society of American Foresters
  • PhD, Forest Science, Michigan Technological University
  • M.S. Forest Ecology and Management, Michigan Technological University
  • B.S. in Forestry, Purdue University


My research, which focuses on forest health, and its biotic and abiotic influencing factors, helps provide scientific foundation for management policies and the ecological response to changes in forest health conditions.  Influencing factors I have studied include forest entomology, pathology, invasive species ecology, climate, nutrients, and anthropogenic  impacts.  Forest Health is a key driver of management in many forested systems and is becoming the main focus for managers more often as new diseases, pests and plants are introduced in our global economy.

Innovative research and monitoring of forest conditions are vitally important to the sustainability and diversity of our forests, but I also believe that well educated students and an informed public will do more for this than what research I could ever carry out. Besides, being outside and seeing people's amazed reactions to earthworms evading a mustard solution or aquatic insects coming up in a net is just great fun!

In addition to teaching and research, I'm also an advisor to the Master of Forestry students.  My goal is to prepare students to be professionals across a range of forestry fields.  Mentorship, networking, communication, and other professional skills are emphasized in addition to students coursework. 

Teaching Interests

  • Insect Ecology
  • Field Techniques
  • Vegetation
  • Maple Syrup Culture & Management
  • Natural Resources Communication
  • Forest Health and Pathology

Areas of Expertise

  • Forest Health Management and Monitoring
  • Earthworm Invasion Ecology
  • Wood Decay Testing
  • Insect, Fungi, and Environmental Education
  • Wild Foods

Recent Publications

  • Bal, TL, Storer, AJ, Jurgensen, MF. 2017. Evidence of damage from exotic invasive earthworm activity was highly correlated to sugar maple dieback in the Upper Great Lakes region. Biological Invasions. Read More
  • Bal, TL, Storer, AJ, Jurgensen, MF, Doskey, PV, Amacher, MC, 2015. Nutrient stress predisposes and contributes to sugar maple dieback across its northern range: a review. Forestry 88 (1): 64-83. Read More
  • Bal, Tara L., 2014. Forest Health Detectives. The American Biology Teacher. 76 (8): 532-537 Read More
  • Bal, T.L., Richter, D.L,. Storer, A.J., and Jurgensen, M.F. 2013. The relationship of the Sapstreak Fungus, Ceratocystis virescens, to Sugar Maple Dieback and Decay in North Michigan. American Journal of Plant Science 4(2A): 436-443. Read More
  • Evaluation of Sugar Maple Dieback in the Upper Great Lakes Region and Development of a Forest Health Youth Education Program. PhD Dissertation. Michgian Technological University. 2013. Read More

Teaching Experience

  • FW 2051 Field Techniques
  • FW 3800 Insect Ecology
  • FW 3765 Maple Syrup Mgmt & Culture
  • FW 4500 Wild Foods: People and Plants in the Boreal Forest (co-taught)
  • FW 4800 Communication for Natural Resource Professionals (co-taught)
  • Fw 5010 Woody Plants of North American (co-taught)