Portrait of Douglas Sprugel

Environmental and Forest Sciences

Douglas Sprugel

Professor Emeritus

Douglas Sprugel is a forest ecologist whose most recent work looked at responses of understory plants to forest restoration treatments. Ecological thinning and gap creation are being widely used in Pacific Northwest forests to increase habitat diversity, but controlled and replicated studies of understory responses are rare. Unfortunately, the research has shown that responses to thinning and gaps vary drastically even within a small area, so predicting treatment effects will be challenging. Sprugel also does research on natural disturbance, using high-resolution pollen records to trace stand-level changes in the composition, structure, and, particularly, the natural disturbance regime of forests in western Washington over the last 7000 years. Although previous regional-scale work has indicated that these forests have been relatively stable over this period, Sprugel's work has shown that at the stand level there have been significant changes, both in species composition and in fire frequency, particularly on drier sites within the region.