Erin Twaddell MS Thesis Defense

Department of Integrative Biology Graduate Thesis Defense

Erin Twaddell photo


CONGRATULATIONS to Erin Twaddell who successfully defended her MS Thesis on April 5th!  Erin is a MS student in Dr. Brian Buma's lab, she plans to use her degree in the environmental/spatial modeling fields, hopefully, related to disturbances in some capacity. In the meantime, she'll be moving back to Gunnison to enjoy the summer!


Erin Twaddell

Master's Degree Candidate
Dr. Brian Buma's Lab
CU Denver Department of Integrative Biology

When: April 5, 2023  Where: Science Building Room SI 2001 at 9:00 

Impacts of fuels reduction treatments and wildfire on carbon stocks of semi-arid Pinus ponderosa-dominant forests

Current trends in climate warming have exacerbated wildfires in many semi-arid locations by prolonging the wildfire season and increasing seasonal drought conditions. In attempt to mitigate increasing high-severity wildfire events, land managers have implemented a variety of fuels-reduction treatments, such as mechanical thinning and prescribed burns, to reduce fuel loading and continuity. However, the efficacy of these treatments, especially in regard to carbon, is understudied. This study utilized an extreme wildfire event in a historically mixed severity, semi-arid forest as a case study to understand to what extent fuels reduction treatments mitigated the loss of forest carbon in the presence of a wildfire. Both aboveground and belowground carbon pools were compared, with treatment age, treatment type, slope, aspect, and windspeed considered as covariates. Treatments had little impact on the amount of carbon removed/redistributed post-wildfire when compared to wildfire-only plots, with untreated burned plots containing the highest levels of post-wildfire carbon on average. These results highlight the challenges and limitations of mitigating high-severity wildfires in mixed-regimes, as well as contribute to the broader conversation of treatment effectiveness in the face of climate change.