Photo of Katie H. Greenberg

Katie H. Greenberg

Research Ecologist
1577 Brevard Road
Asheville, NC 28806-9561
Phone: 828-667-5261 x118

Current Research

My research focus includes (1) effects of forest management practices and natural disturbances on plant and animal communities, (2) amphibian population dynamics and use of ephemeral ponds in relation to climate, hydrology, and condition of surrounding uplands, and (3) production of forest food resources, such as native fleshy fruit and hard mast, in relation to forest types and silvicultural disturbances. Disturbance types are varied and include high-intensity wind events, timber harvest, and wildfire or prescribed fire, among others. The impact of disturbances varies with site conditions such as moisture, fertility, and forest communities that are associated with environmental gradients across complex topography and geology. Conditions resulting from disturbance are dynamic, with habitat structure and associated wildlife communities changing over time as forests grow. My past and current studies focus on bird, reptile, amphibian, and small mammal community response to disturbance types including hurricane-related wind downbursts, prescribed fire, and timber harvests. Concern over apparent declines in amphibian populations due to climate change, disease, reduced habitat amount and quality, and other factors, has focused attention on the need for long-term, landscape-level studies to distinguish between true population declines and natural fluctuations. A long-term study in Florida longleaf pine-wiregrass sandhills addresses population dynamics and life history of several amphibian species, and how populations are influenced by habitat quality in the surrounding uplands, climate, and hydrological patterns in ephemeral ponds. Acorns and native fruits are important food resources for both game and nongame wildlife species. Past and ongoing studies in managed and unmanaged forests of the upper Coastal Plain and the southern Appalachians help land managers to predict amounts of nuts and native fruits that are potentially produced on a given stand or landscape, and how that may change with forest age or among different forest types.

Research Interests

Effect of forestry practices on biotic communities; fire ecology; disturbance ecology; forest food resources for wildlife (fruit and hard mast production); Importance of fruit to wildlife; wetland ecology; restoration ecology; plant and animal ecology; exotic plant species invasions.

Why This Research is Important

Tools that forest managers use for sustainable forest management, ecosystem restoration, and other purposes include disturbances such as timber harvest and prescribed fire. Understanding how these disturbance types – both anthropogenic and natural - affect the diversity and abundance of different wildlife species and communities is an important component of science-based land management. Similarly, understanding and predicting how amounts of wildlife food resources such as acorns and native forest fruits vary among forest types and age classes over time is an important component of forest management for healthy and diverse wildlife populations. Amphibians are declining worldwide, yet long-term population and metapopulation studies are rare, especially linked to potential causal factors such as climate and the suitability of breeding and upland habitat quality. This information can only be obtained through long-term studies, and is important for developing conservation strategies for many amphibian species.


Ph.D. in Wildlife Ecology, 1993
University of Florida
M.S. in Wildlife Ecology, 1987
University of Tennessee
B.A. in Philosophy, 1981
George Washington Univ

Professional Organizations

  • Natural Areas Association, Member (1994—Current)
  • Ecological Society of America, Member (1992—Current)
  • The Association of Southeastern Biologists, Lifetime Member (1988—Current)
  • The Wildlife Society, Member (1987—Current)
  • Society for Conservation Biology, Member (1982—Current)

Awards and Recognition

Director's Award, 2010
USFS, SRS. 2010. Director’s Award - Natural Resource Stewardship

Featured Publications and Products


Research Highlights

Regional Oak Regeneration Study (2010)
SRS-2010-013 SRS scientists are partnering with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission and the Stevenson Land Company to initiate a regional study that focuses on the ecosystem response (regeneration of oakand other hardwood species, and plant diversity) to three recommended, but not widely tested, treatments.

Research Addresses Decline of Young Forests in Central Hardwood Region (2012)
NRS-2012-38 Report details how young forests can be sustainably created and managed in a landscape context

Southern Research Station and Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Partner in Wildlife Research (2014)
SRS-2014-135 Two graduate and three undergraduate students from the University of Texas at San Antonio, a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), worked with scientists at the Bent Creek Experimental Forest to study how reptiles and amphibians respond to prescribed fire and other forest management practices. This partnership between the Forest Service's Southern Research Station and a HACU University is providing valuable field experience to students and addressing important research questions that support science-based forest management.

Wildlife response to prescribed fires and mechanical fuel reduction treatments in an upland hardwood forest (2018)
SRS-2018-47 Prescribed burning is a common forest management tool, with fuel reduction, ecosystem restoration, and wildlife habitat improvement often cited as primary goals. Mechanical fuel reduction by cutting shrubs and small trees is sometimes used instead to reduce risks to property, safety, and air quality. Southern Research Station scientists studied how breeding birds, reptiles, amphibians, pollinating insects, and beetles responded to repeated fuel reduction treatments in upland hardwood forests.