Photo of Chelcy F. Miniat

Chelcy F. Miniat

Project Leader
3160 Coweeta Lab Road
Otto, NC 28763
Phone: 828-524-2128 x118
Fax: 828-369-6768

Current Research

My research is centered on developing a mechanistic understanding of watershed ecosystem function by studying how abiotic and biotic factors (e.g., species, environmental variables, disturbances) regulate carbon, nutrient, and water cycling processes. My personal research spans the continuum from the organism, to stands, to landscapes and includes determination of the roles of species and natural and anthropogenic disturbances (including forest management activities) in regulating ecosystem hydrologic processes. I am conducting a combination of ecophysiological and ecosystem studies at multiple scales to understand and forecast how evapotranspiration and streamflow are regulated by biotic and abiotic factors.

Research Interests

My primary areas of emphasis are: (1) quantifying rates of and driving mechanisms influencing water and carbon fluxes in trees across a range of environmental conditions; and (2) scaling these measurements spatially and temporally, often in a predictive manner, to make inferences on forest ecosystem processes (e.g., forest hydrologic and carbon cycles) under changing management or climatic conditions.

Why This Research is Important

Being able to resolve the importance of species identity on the water cycle is challenging, but critical for addressing questions of management, natural disturbances, and climate change on stream flow. Management and natural distrubance often create forests with specific species and structure. Climate change will have a similar effect. Because the average rate at which ecosystems must shift geographically to keep pace with changing temperatures as a result of global warming is 0.42 km/year, most ecosystems will face temperature increases faster than species will be able to migrate or adapt, leading to mass extinction of many plant species. Thus, developing an understanding of species-level variation on forest processes will allow us to predict the impacts of invasive insects (e.g. hemlock woolly adelgid) and disease (e.g. chestnut blight), climate change (i.e., by linking stress physiology with population dynamics), and develop management options to adapt to or mitigate the impacts on stream flow.


Ph.D. in Forest Resources, 2004
University of Georgia
M.S. in Botany, 1999
University of South Florida
B.S. in Applied Biology, 1997
Georgia Institute of Technology

Professional Experience

Research Project Leader and Ecologist, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Center for Forest Watershed Research, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory
Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Center for Forest Watershed Research, Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory
Graduate Research Assistant, Environmental Protection Agency STAR Graduate Fellow, Univeristy of Georgia, Warnell School of Forest Resources
Technician, Univeristy of South Florida, Department of Biology
Grantee, US Environmental Protection Agency, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL), Western Ecology Division
Graduate Research Assistant, University of South Florida, Department of Biology
Technician, Georgia Department of Natural Resources/Environmental Protection Division

Professional Organizations

  • American Geophysical Union, Member (2006—Current)
  • Ecological Society of America, Member (2002—Current)
  • American Institute of Biological Sciences, Member (2002—2002)

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

Assessment of the Interaction of Climate Change, Fire, and Forests in the U.S. Published (2014)
SRS-2014-147 Fire has been one of the most frequent and severe disturbances to ecosystems globally and, as such, one of the major regulators of forest composition, function and dynamics. Any consideration of forests under a changing climate regime, therefore, must be viewed through a prism of fire interactions. A special section of the September issue of Forest Ecology and Management assesses the interactions among fire, climate change, and forests for five major regions of the United States.
Forest Community Dynamics After Widespread Die-Off From an Invasive Insect (2012)
SRS-2012-04 Understanding how microclimate and forest community respond to eastern hemlock die-off
Loss of Eastern Hemlock Affects Peak Flows after Extreme Storm Events (2014)
SRS-2014-148 Few studies have examined how insect outbreaks affect landscape-level hydrologic processes. In this study, Forest Service scientists report the hydrologic effects of the invasive, exotic Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in a headwater catchment in the southern Appalachian Mountains.
Quantifying the Role of National Forest System Lands in Providing Surface Drinking Water Supply for the Southern United States (2014)
SRS-2014-149 In the South, as in the rest of the U.S., people and communities depend on forests as the headwaters for clean and dependable water supply. A new publication by U.S. Forest Service researchers provides details at the landscape level on the quantity of water southern communities receive from federal, state and private forest lands. The report provides, for the first time, scientifically credible information on the exact extent and importance of forests to drinking water in the South.