Scientists & Staff

Kathleen Knight

Kathleen Knight

Research Ecologist
359 Main Road
Delaware, OH, 43015
Phone: 740-368-0101

Contact Kathleen Knight

Current Research

My current research deals with the effects of emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) on forest communities. Short-term effects, such as ash (Fraxinus) decline trajectories and responses of native and exotic species, are being monitored in a network of plots across Ohio and Michigan. An ash decline transition matrix will be created from this data and will allow managers to predict yearly ash decline and mortality in forest stands. Preliminary matrices show the potential for rapid mortality. Long-term responses of forests will be modeled using the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS), which I am modifying to include invasive shrub species. FVS will also be used to examine effects of management, such as invasive shrub removal and native tree planting, in forests where ash is the dominant species


  • University of Minnesota Ph.D., Ph.D. Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, 2006
  • Hiram College, B.A. Biology and Music Performance, 2001

Professional Organizations

  • Ecological Society of America
  • Ohio Invasive Plants Network

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

Ash trees.

Understanding Long-Term Impacts of an Invasive, Tree-Killing Pest

Year: 2019

The emerald ash borer has been killing ash trees in the United States for more than two decades. What does that mean for ash populations and the forest ecosystems? Long-term monitoring plot data collected by USDA Forest Service scientists and partners is helping to elucidate the impacts of this invasive pest and to plan management and conservation strategies.

Researcher injecting an ash tree with insecticide.

Genetic Information on Ash Informs Treatments for Emerald Ash Borer 

Year: 2018

Forest managers can use insecticide treatments to protect ash trees from emerald ash borer to conserve the genetic diversity of ash. But which trees should be protected? Research at the Allegheny National Forest is underway to develop new strategies to conserve ash tree diversity.

Dead ash trees in an urban forest create a gap in the canopy, allowing sunlight to filter down to other trees and plants.

Understanding effects of emerald ash borer on forests

Year: 2017

As the invasive emerald ash borer swept across Ohio, Forest Service researchers tracked its aftermath as killed ash trees unleashed a cascade of effects in forest ecosystems. Understanding these effects will help managers plan for and mitigate problems in forests throughout the region.

This flow diagram shows how we ranked species for potential to replace ash: status and risk to ash was considered together with potential of co-occurring species (both in Minnesota and in points south in Michigan and Ohio) to tolerate a changing climate. Louis Iverson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Equipping Forest Managers to Respond to Two Threats to Ash

Year: 2016

Forest Service scientists used field data and models to assess both the threats to, and potential replacement species for, black ash, a species threatened by climate change and the emerald ash borer.

American elm cuttings growing in the greenhouse. Kathleen Knight, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Elm Disease Resistance Research Gets a Boost

Year: 2016

Great news for disease-tolerant American elm! A grant from The Manton Foundation has provided the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station with an opportunity to accelerate American elm research in collaboration with Nature Conservancy.

Interns put EAB eggs on trees: Summer interns set up bioassay experiment by taping EAB eggs to test trees. USDA Forest Service

Green Ash Trees That Survive Beetle Infestation Pass on Their Resistance Through Propagation and Planting

Year: 2015

Among the tens of millions of trees killed by the emerald ash borer (EAB), researchers have found a small number of trees that survived their assault. Tests show that these surviving ash trees are more resistant to EAB than their counterparts. Breeding these select trees may produce trees with an even greater ability to survive EAB infestation and will provide seedlings to restore ash in areas destroyed by EAB.

The relationship between initial ash canopy condition and the time series progression of each canopy condition class of insecticide treated trees over the course of the experimen.t Kathleen Knight, USDA Forest Service

Insecticide Effectiveness Against Emerald Ash Borer Studied

Year: 2015

Insecticides used to protect urban ash trees against emerald ash borer are not consistently protective: their effectiveness is diminished in heavily infested ash trees. A 3-year study by University of Illinois scientists in collaboration with Forest Service scientists determined how far gone a tree must be before it’s not useful to treat it.

Dempsey Middle School science students paint and dissect ash logs to understand woodpecker feeding on emerald ash borer larvae. Joanne Rebbeck, USDA Forest Service

Woodpeckers Capitalize on an Invasive Forest Pest

Year: 2014

Emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle that kills ash trees, is eaten by bark-foraging birds like woodpeckers. Forest Service scientists and partners studied behavioral feeding preferences and effectiveness of woodpeckers foraging in beetle-infested forests.

Ohio educators learn to use emerald ash borer as a current issue to teach the process of science to middle school students. Barbara McGuinness, USDA Forest Service

Destructive Emerald Ash Borer Pest Provides Science Learning Opportunity for Kids

Year: 2013

This effort has led to the development of a week-long EAB curriculum that gives kids hands-on experience with the process of science while doing real research on an important current issue. It involves students in the entire scientific process by engaging them in research from developing and testing hypotheses to reporting and presenting their findings.

Last modified: Tuesday, June 16, 2015