Background, Research Interests, and Current Projects:
Zach received a B.S. in Biochemistry from Western Washington University and then went on to work on a variety of field studies in the Mojave, Hawaii, Yucatan, Channel Islands, and Edward's Plateau. He then went on to get his M.S. in wildlife at Humboldt State University and afterwards worked on field studies in Congaree National Park and the Snake River Plain of Idaho before coming to Reno to pursue his Ph.D. in landscape ecology.
In collaboration with Stan Kitchen from the Provo Shrub Sciences Laboratory-Rocky Mountain Research Station, Zach is investigating the historical range of fire regime in mountain big sagebrush communities in the eastern Great Basin, upper Colorado Plateau and intervening mountains and highlands. Using fire chronologies generated from proximal fire-scarred trees, the project is intended to produce estimates of both fire frequency and recovery rate for mountain big sagebrush and co-dominant shrub species, as well as estimates for the rate of tree invasion.
Using simulation modeling, Zach will investigate the long-term response of woody species to various fire regime scenarios and the relative importance of spatial attributes of fire (size, shape, patchiness) on post-fire recovery of mountain big sagebrush-dominated landscapes.
Population dynamics of sagebrush-obligate bird species will be modeled in relation to fire regime scenarios to investigate the potential long term consequences of fire management strategies to the persistence of sagebrush birds in the region.