Scientists & Staff

Lindsey Rustad

Lindsey Rustad

Team Leader / Research Ecologist
271 Mast Road
Durham, NH, 03824
Phone: 603-397-7406

Contact Lindsey Rustad

Current Research

Overarching research interests: Effects of anthropogenic disturbances on forested ecosystems of Northeastern North America, with an emphasis on acidic deposition and climate change.


  • NE Forests 2100: The effects of climate change on forest ecosystems of the northeastern United States and Eastern Canada.
  • A cross site study of fine root response to experimentally elevated N deposition.
  • Understanding the impacts of ice storms on forest ecosystems of the northeastern United States and Eastern Canada. (pilot stage)
  • Decadal-scale effects of experimental N additions on biogeochemical processes at the Bear Brook Watershed in Maine.

Research Interests

  • Continued synthesis of existing data and efforts to increase communication and collaboration amongst regional, national and international global change scientists.
  • Evaluation of the effects of ice storms on forests of the northeastern United States.
  • Evaluation of the single and interactive effects of chronic N additions and drought on fine root dynamics in northern forest ecosystems.
  • Integration of art and science to better understand pattern and process in large ecological data sets and share this information with a broader audience.

Why This Research is Important

An overwhelming scientific consensus exists that 20th century human activities have induced dramatic and unprecedented changes in the earth's chemical and physical environment. As such, the response of terrestrial ecosystems to this global phenomenon has been the subject of intense scientific scrutiny over the past several decades. Although much has been learned about terrestrial ecosystem response to these perturbations (e.g. climate change, acidic deposition), urgent and immediate needs remain to continue to build a sound scientific basis for regional, national and international policies regulating such things as carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emissions, and atmospheric deposition of nitrogen, sulfur, and mercury. In order to meet these complex needs in a timely fashion, a growing consensus exists within the scientific community that it will be necessary to better integrate observational, experimental, and modeling techniques into a unified multidisciplinary approach to understanding ecosystem response to global change.


  • University of Maine, Ph.D. Plant Science, 1988
  • Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, M.F.S. Forest Science, 1983
  • Cornell University, B.A. Philosophy, 1980

Professional Organizations

  • Soil Science Society of America (1987 - Current)
    Education K-12
  • Ecological Society of America

Awards & Recognition

  • USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station's Distinguished Scientist Award, 2018
  • USDA Forest Service Deputy Chief's Distinguished Science Award, 2018
  • Fellow for Soil Science Society of America, 2015

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

1.  Master's student, Wendy Leunberger, takes measurements following a simulated ice storm experiment at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest.
2.  Scientists create a simulated ice storm at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH.

Why ice storms aren't cool: Experimental ice storms demonstrate real time impacts on northern forests

Year: 2017

Extreme weather events are becoming increasingly common, creating dangerous disturbances to forests, towns, and cities. Forest Service scientists are pioneering new approaches to study these hazardous events with the long-term goals of making future forests and communities more resilient.

Well-managed northern conifer forests were found to store more carbon than those that have been exploitatively harvested. Laura Kenefic, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Sustainable Northern Conifer Forest Management Stores More Carbon than Exploitative Harvesting

Year: 2016

An important part of climate change mitigation is carbon storage in forests and wood products. Yet managers are often uncertain about which management approaches maximize carbon storage. New findings from long-term research in northern conifers in Maine reveal that sustainable forest management results in greater carbon storage than exploitative harvesting.

Phenocam and Antenna on top of the pierce laboratory at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH. USDA Forest Service

“Smart Forests” Digital Environmental Sensors and Telecommunications Take Research to New Levels

Year: 2015

Scientific breakthroughs of the 21st century will be powered by tools that help researchers collect and manipulate massive datasets, visualize that data, and offer new ways of understanding the scientific processes behind that information. Forest Service scientists are taking a lead in developing a national Experimental Forests and Ranges “Smart Forests” Network. This network of wired forests uses digital environmental sensors, wireless communications, and new data visualization programs to create a powerful integrated research and monitoring program for the nation’s air, water, forest and rangeland resources.

A screen shot of the WaterViz visualization. USDA Forest Service

WaterViz for Hubbard Brook: A Water Cycle Visualization Tool

Year: 2014

The WaterViz for Hubbard Brook is a new water-cycle visualization tool for creatively communicating water science to the public with realtime forest data. It uses hydrologic data captured digitally from a small first-order catchment at the Forest Service's Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains National Forest to animate a flash visualization and sonification available to viewers and listeners worldwide on the Internet.

Changing Climate, Changing Forests: The Impacts of Climate Change on Forests of Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada. Forest Service

Changing Climate, Changing Forests

Year: 2012

Effects of climate change on forests of the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada

Last modified: Monday, September 21, 2020