Joseph O'Brien

Team Leader/Research Ecologist
320 Green Street
Athens, GA 30602-2044
Phone: 706-461-3372

Current Research

My research centers on fire science, specifically the spatial interactions among wildland fuels, fire behavior and fire effects. I also am interested in the impacts of fire exclusion on ecosystem function and how to best restore fire into long-unburned fire dependent ecosystems.My research in fire ecology spans the globe with active research in the Caribbean, Central America and Africa.

I am interested in developing new ways of measuring fuels and fire, and in integrating these concepts into understanding ecosystem function and guiding management. For example, my research into spatially and temporally explicit fire behavior measurements led to the development of the concept of “the ecology of fuels” that bridges the gaps between both silviculture and fire management but also fire physics and fire ecology.


Research Interests

My research interests include fire ecology, ecophysiology, forest disturbance, interactions among disturbances, conservation biology and management of rare and endangered species,

Why This Research is Important

Fire has shaped the ecology and evolution of terrestrial ecosystems since they came into existence. Fire remains one of the most important management issues in the United States and the world. However, this critical ecological process has remained poorly studied and often misunderstood. This offers tremendous opportunity for both creating new knowledge and improving fire management,=,


Ph.D. in Biological Sciences, 2001
Florida International University
M.S. in Biological Sciences, 1997
Florida International University
B.S. in Biology, 1986
State University of New York at Geneseo

Featured Publications and Products