Andrew J. Burton

Andrew J. Burton
"Every day in the woods is a good day - don't get so caught up in the work at hand that you forget to look around and appreciate where you are."


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  • Distinguished Professor
  • Interim Associate Dean for Research
  • Coordinator of Interdisciplinary, Multi-Institutional Research
  • PhD, Forest Science (Forest Ecology), Michigan Technological University, 1997
  • MS, Forestry (Soils and Hydrology), Michigan State University, 1986
  • BS, Forestry, Michigan State University, 1983

Below ground Processes and Ecosystem Ecology

Forest ecosystems have constantly changed through time. The difficulty today is understanding the influence of man relative to the background of natural change. We impact our forests both intentionally through management and unintentionally by creating pollution, introducing exotic pests, and altering our atmosphere. Are these impacts so severe that our forest ecosystems cannot be sustained? Will large-scale declines in forest health and productivity occur, or will our forests simply undergo gradual changes in composition as they adjust to a new environment? My research integrates soil science, hydrology, plant physiology and ecology in order to determine how ecosystems are affected by and adjust to environmental stresses and human manipulations. By understanding how forests are likely to change, we will be able to adjust our activities now to create a future in which forests can continue to provide the goods and services to which we have become accustomed.

Our students will manage the forests of the future. I enjoy taking them into the field so they can not only learn how our ecosystems work, but they also can see it, feel it and appreciate it. It is very important to me that our students learn and succeed. I am willing to work as hard as I can at making their education a success. I know I can contribute to our understanding of forest ecosystems through my research, but I also know that what I can do is far less than what hundreds of well-trained students will accomplish.

Areas of Expertise

  • Forest responses to global change factors
  • Belowground processes
  • Carbon and nutrient cycling
  • Physiological ecology of tree roots
  • Undergraduate involvement in research