Scientists & Staff

Steve Shifley

Stephen R. Shifley

Emeritus Research Forester
202 Natural Resources Bldg., University of Missouri-Columbia
Columbia, MO, 65211-7260
Phone: 573-875-5341 x232

Contact Stephen R. Shifley

Current Research

I am working with a team of scientists to forecast long-term, large-scale changes in Midwestern forest landscapes that result from natural disturbances and from alternative harvesting practices. I am using information on regional, national, and global patterns of wood consumption, forest growth, and timber harvest to identify issues related to sustainable forest management. I am working to understand factors associated with oak mortality and on methods to minimize its impact.

Research Interests

I will continue to work on issues related to forest sustainability and landscape-scale, cumulative impacts of forest management decisions. In the coming years I will place more emphasis on fire effects (wildfire and prescribed fire) and bio-energy production as it relates to theses issues.

Why This Research is Important

Forecasting landscape change with simulation models is an essential quantitative tool for understanding the large-scale, long-term, cumulative effects of forest management. This knowledge is required for management of National Forests and equally crucial for understanding the combined effect of seemingly independent management decisions by thousands of private forestland owners on a single landscape. It is important to consider the effects of consumption of wood products on forest resources at home and abroad. In the U.S. we often transfer impacts of harvesting and consumption elsewhere and fail to consider the broader implications for forest sustainability.


  • Purdue University, B.S. Forestry, 1976
  • Purdue University, M.S. Forestry, 1978
  • University of Minnesota, Ph.D. Forestry, 1990

Professional Organizations

  • Society of American Foresters (SAF)
  • Conservation Federation of Missouri
  • Society for Conservation Biology, Missouri

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Cover of Future Forests of the Northern United States Report. U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Future Forests of the Northern United States

Year: 2016

The recent publication of Future Forests of the Northern United States and associated databases caps a 6-year effort to examine past trends, current conditions, and anticipated changes over the next 50 years for forests in the 20 northern states bounded by Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Minnesota.

The 20 States bounded by Maine, Maryland, Missouri and Minnesota comprise the most heavily forested and most densely populated quadrant of the United States.  This landscape view from southern Maine illustrates the beauty of those forests and the uniformity of the forest age structure.  That uniformity is a potential problem because it means northern forests lack diversity and resilience. Dan Dey, USDA Forest Service

Big Changes Ahead Expected for Northern Forests

Year: 2014

Northern Forests, those in the 20 states bounded by Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Minnesota, are in for some big changes in the next 50 years. Research under the Forest Service's Northern Forest Futures Project is identifying the drivers of forest change and projected patterns of change over the next 50 years. Forest Inventory and analysis data projected into the future provide new insights into anticipated trends that will require the attention of policy makers and resource managers.

Landscape photograph of the Missouri Ozark forests. Dan Dey, USDA Forest Service

Forest Management Guidelines Help Improve and Sustain Missouri's Forest Resources

Year: 2014

Missouri landowners and resource managers need state-of-the-art, science-based knowledge of forest management planning, silviculture, and best management practices to guide their stewardship and use of Missouri's 15.5 million acres of forestland. Forests contribute significantly to the state economy (more than $8 billion from forest industry alone), provide substantial job opportunities, produce clean air and water, act as playgrounds for recreation, serve as home to valued wildlife, and protect high levels of native biodiversity. Forest Service scientists and partners have produced "Missouri Forest Management Guidelines," as a comprehensive, science-based publication on forest management for sustainable multiple-use of Missouri's forests.

Forests of the Northern United States uses more than 100 maps, graphs, and tables to summarize current conditions and recent trends for the 172 million acres of forest land in the 20 States that comprise the U.S. North. Forest Service

Report Details Trends and Current Conditions for Northern Forests

Year: 2012

Overarching issues include the interaction of forests and people, managing invasive species, sustaining biodiversity, and sustaining capacity for forest management

Second Edition Published of 'Oak Bible'---The Ecology and Silviculture of Oaks

Year: 2010

The second edition of The Ecology and Silviculture of Oaks was recently authored by retireed NRS scientist Paul Johnson (Columbia, MO) and NRS scientist Stephen Shifley), with their colleague Robert Rogers (University of Wisconsin--Stevens Point, Emeritus).

Last modified: Wednesday, December 10, 2014