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Michael R Saunders

Forestry and Natural Resources 

  • Associate Professor of Ecology and Natural Resources
PFEN Room 221C
715 W State Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907

Research Group - Ecology of Natural SystemsForest Biology

Facilities - Forest Ecology, Soils, and Silviculture Lab

Areas of Excellence - Sustaining Hardwood Ecosystems

Related Centers - Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center

Purdue Extension - FNR Extension

Michael R. Saunders is an Associate Professor of Silviculture in the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) at Purdue University.  Michael holds a B.S. in Forestry from Iowa State University in 1994, a B.S. in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology from Iowa State University in 1994, a M.S. in Forest Management with a minor in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Minnesota in 1998, and a Ph.D. in Forest Management with an emphasis in Silviculture from the University of Maine in 2006.  He joined the faculty in July 2007.

Michael’s main research emphasis includes: 1) the development of silvicultural systems that increase the range of variability within natural stands and/or emulate natural disturbance regimes within a given region, 2) improvement of growth and yields within intensively managed systems, and 3) the influence of silviculture on wildlife habitat requirements.  He also is involved in projects concerning precommercial thinning in spruce-fir stands within the Northeast and improvement of growth and yield models in the eastern U.S.

Awards & Honors

(2012) Past chair. Indiana Society of American Foresters.

(2011) Chair. Indiana Society of American Foresters.

(2010) Chair-elect. Society of American Foresters - Indiana Chapter.

Selected Publications

Nelson, A. S., Weiskittel, A. R., Wagner, R. G., & Saunders, M. R. (2014). Development and validation of small-diameter aboveground biomass equations for naturally-regenerated and planted tree species in eastern Maine. Biomass and Bioenergy, 68, 215-227. Retrieved from

Nelson, A. S., Wagner, R. G., Weiskittel, A. R., & Saunders, M. R. (in press). Effects of species composition, management intensity, and shade tolerance on vertical distribution of leaf area index in juvenile stands in Maine, USA. European Journal of Forest Research. Retrieved from

Belair, E., Saunders, M. R., & Bailey, B. G. (2014). Underplanting American chestnut in oak-hickory forests: effects of midstory removal, root trenching, and weeding treatments on growth and surviva. Forest Ecology and Management, 329(1), 21-29. Retrieved from

Shields, J. M., Jenkins, M. A., Saunders, M. R., Zhang, H., Jenkins, L. H., & Parks, A. M. (2014). Age distribution and spatial patterning of an invasive shrub in secondary hardwood forests. Forest Science, 60(5), 830-840. Retrieved from

Saunders, M. R., Jenkins, M. A., Michler, C. H., & Webster, C. R. (2014). Piecing together the fragments – select papers from the Ninth North American Forest Ecology Workshop. Forest Science, 60(5), 817-818. Retrieved from

Morrissey, R. G., Saunders, M. R., & Jenkins, M. A. (in press). Long-term spatiotemporal responses to overstory disturbance in managed and unmanaged forests. Forestry.

Brown, C. E., Bailey, B. G., Saunders, M. R., & Jacobs, D. F. (2014). Effects of root competition on development of chestnut and oak regeneration following midstory removal. Forestry, 87(4), 562-570. Retrieved from

Shields, J. M., Jenkins, M. A., Saunders, M. R., Gibson, K. D., Zollner, P. A., & Dunning, Jr., J. B. (in press). Influence of intensity and duration of invasion by Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) on mixed-hardwood forests of Indiana. Invasive Plant Science and Management.

Clark, S. L., Schlarbaum, S. E., Pinchot, C. C., Anagnostakis, S. L., Saunders, M. R., Thomas-Van Grundy, M., . . . Williamson, T. S. (2014). Reintroduction of American chestnut in the National Forest System. Journal of Forestry, 112(5), 502-512. Retrieved from

Shields, J. M., Jenkins, M. A., Zollner, P. A., & Saunders, M. R. (2014). Effects of amur honeysuckle invasion and removal on white-footed mice. Journal of Wildlife Management, 78(5), 867-880. Retrieved from