Photo of Ben Rau

Ben Rau

Research Hydrologist
Route 219 North, Nursery Bottom
P.O. Box 404
Parsons, WV 26287-0404

Current Research

  • Quantifying carbon emissions from fire and exotic annual grass invasion in sagebrush-steppe and Pinyon-juniper woodlands

  • Testing BMP effectiveness to remove nitrogen from shallow groundwater and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in intensively managed biomass production systems

  • Quantify the long-term impacts of forest management, climate change, and environmental policy on water quantity and quality in the Central Appalachians (Fernow Experimental Forest)

Research Interests

  • Nutrient management to increase productivity, improve soil and water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Biogeochemical cycling of Carbon and Nitrogen in managed and un-managed ecosystems.

  • Understanding the impacts of climate change, vegetation, and land management on in-stream flows and water quality in headwater streams.

Past Research

  • Quantify the effects of prescribed fire and fire surrogate treatments on soil nutrients and vegetation response to treatments.

  • Quantify the factors that make sagebrush-steppe and pinyon-juniper woodland resilient to disturbance and resistant to exotic annual grass invasion.

  • Quantify nitrogen uptake and biomss accumulation in intensively managed Loblolly pine plantations.

Why This Research is Important

Forest, rangeland, and agro-ecological systems provide clean water, food, and fiber that are essential to human health, a robust economy, and national security. They also serve an irreplaceable role in the global carbon cycle which regulates Earth’s climate, making it habitable.

We live in a world dominated by anthropogenic influence over our environment and with an ever-increasing pressure on natural resources. Understanding the links between climate, hydrology, soils, vegetation, and management is crucial for continued access to clean water, food, and fiber, and for stabilizing our climate.

My research focuses on long-term data collection, experimental manipulation, and modeling to better understand the links between the biotic and abiotic systems that drive ecosystem services and sustain our quality of life.


Ph.D. in Hydrology, Soil Science, and System Ecology, 2009
University of Nevada - Reno
M.S. in Hydrology, Soil Science, and System Ecology, 2005
University of Nevada - Reno
B.S. in General Biology and Ecology, 2000
University of Nevada - Reno

Professional Experience

Research Hydrologist, USFS Northern Research Station, Timber and Watershed Research Lab
Supervisory Ecologist, USGS New England Water Science Center
Research Ecologist, USFS Southern Research Station, Savannah River Forestry Sciences Laboratory
Post Doctoral Research Soil Scientist, USDA Agricultural Research Service
Hydrologist, USFS Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
Soil Scientist / Hydrologist Trainee (SCEP), USFS Flathead and Plumas National Forests
Graduate Research Assistant, University of Nevada - Reno
Biological Sciences Technician (STEP), USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, Great Basin Ecology Laboratory


Research Highlights

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R&D Affiliations
Research Topics
Priority Areas
NRS Theme
Experimental Forests and Ranges
External Resources