Ellis Margolis is a research ecologist with the Fort Collins Science Center, stationed at the New Mexico Landscapes Field Station. His research focuses on land use and climatic effects on fire regimes and forests in the southwestern U.S.
Ellis Margolis is a research ecologist at the New Mexico Landscapes Field Station, a Fort Collins Science Center facility in New Mexico. Ellis received a Ph.D. in Watershed Management from the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, Arizona. Since joining the USGS in 2015, he has continued his research on the interactions between fire, forests, and climate and specializes in dendrochronology (the study of tree ring dating). Presently, his research focuses on land use and climatic effects on fire regimes and forests in the southwestern U.S. to guide fire regime and forest restoration for watershed management.
2015 - present, Research Ecologist, USGS New Mexico Landscapes Field Station, Fort Collins Science Center, Santa Fe, NM
2009 - 2015, Research Associate, University of Arizona Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, Tucson, AZ
1999 - 2008, Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant, University of Arizona, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, Tucson, AZ
1998 - 1999, Fire Technician, The Nature Conservancy National Fire Management and Research Program, Tall Timbers, FL
1997- 1998, Biologist, The Nature Conservancy Albany Pine Bush Preserve and Eastern NY Chapter, Albany, NY
Education and Certifications
Ph.D. Watershed Management, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona - 2007
M.S. Watershed Management, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona - 2003
B.S. Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona - 1995
Science and Products
Indigenous fire management and cross-scale fire-climate relationships in the Southwest United States from 1500 to 1900 CE
Reimagine fire science for the anthropocene
The North American tree-ring fire-scar network
Vegetation type conversion in the US Southwest: Frontline observations and management responses
Joint effects of climate, tree size, and year on annual tree growth derived using tree-ring records of ten globally distributed forests
Tamm review: Postfire landscape management in frequent-fire conifer forests of the southwestern United States
Investigating vegetation responses to underground nuclear explosions through integrated analyses
Native American fire management at an ancient wildland–urban interface in the Southwest United States
Valleys of fire: Historical fire regimes of forest-grassland ecotones across the montane landscape of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico, USA
Dendrochronology of a rare long-lived mediterranean shrub
Wildfire-driven forest conversion in western North American landscapes
Climate relationships with increasing wildfire in the southwestern US from 1984 to 2015
**Disclaimer: The views expressed in Non-USGS publications are those of the author and do not represent the views of the USGS, Department of the Interior, or the U.S. Government.
Long-term, Place-based, Science and Ecological Monitoring
Synthesis of the new North American tree-ring fire-scar network: using past and present fire-climate relationships to improve projections of future wildfire
Next Generation Fire Modeling to Inform the Management of Climate and Fire Driven Ecological Transformations in the Rio Grande Basin
Delivering the North American tree-ring fire history network through a web application and an R package
Effects of disturbance and drought on the forests and hydrology of the Southern Rocky Mountains
Using the Past and the Present To Understand Fire Ecology in the Range of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse
Fort Collins Science Center Labs and Facilities
The New Mexico Landscapes Field Station
The Western Mountain Initiative (WMI)
Post-fire Recovery Patterns in Southwestern Forests
New Mexico Dendroecology Lab
Western Mountain Initiative: Southern Rocky Mountains
North American tree-ring fire-scar site descriptions
Science and Products
Filter Total Items: 21
Indigenous fire management and cross-scale fire-climate relationships in the Southwest United States from 1500 to 1900 CEPrior research suggests that Indigenous fire management buffers climate influences on wildfires, but it is unclear whether these benefits accrue across geographic scales. We use a network of 4824 fire-scarred trees in Southwest United States dry forests to analyze up to 400 years of fire-climate relationships at local, landscape, and regional scales for traditional territories of three different IAuthorsChris I. Roos, Christopher H. Guiterman, Ellis Margolis, Thomas W. Swetnam, Nicholas C. Laluk, Kerry F. Thompson, Chris Toya, Calvin A. Farris, Peter Z. Fulé, Jose M. Iniguez, J. Mark Kaib, Christopher D. O’Connor, Lionel Whitehair
Reimagine fire science for the anthropoceneFire is an integral component of ecosystems globally and a tool that humans have harnessed for millennia. Altered fire regimes are a fundamental cause and consequence of global change, impacting people and the biophysical systems on which they depend. As part of the newly emerging Anthropocene, marked by human-caused climate change and radical changes to ecosystems, fire danger is increasing, andAuthorsJacquelyn K. Shuman, Jennifer K. Balch, Rebecca T. Barnes, Philip E. Higuera, Christopher I. Roos, Dylan W. Schwilk, E. Natasha Stavros, Tirtha Banerjee, Megan Bela, Jacob Bendix, Sandro Bertolino, Solomon Bililign, Kevin D. Bladon, Paulo Brando, Robert E. Breidenthal, Brian Buma, Donna Calhoun, Leila M. V. Carvalho, Megan Cattau, Kaelin M Cawley, Sudeep Chandra, Melissa L. Chipman, Jeanette Cobian, Erin Conlisk, Jonathan Coop, Alison Cullen, Kimberley T Davis, Archana Dayalu, Megan Dolman, Lisa M. Ellsworth, Scott Franklin, Chris Guiterman, Matthew Hamilton, Erin J. Hanan, Winslow D. Hansen, Stijn Hantson, Brian J Harvey, Andrés Holz, Matt Hurteau, Nayani T Ilangakoon, Megan Jennings, Charles Jones, Anna Klimaszewski-Patterson, Leda N. Kobziar, John Kominoski, Branko Kosovic, Meg A. Krawchuk, Paul Laris, Jackson Leonard, S. Marcela Loria- Salazar, Melissa Lucash, Hussam Mahmoud, Ellis Margolis, Toby Maxwell, Jessica McCarty, David B McWethy, Rachel Meyer, Jessica R. Miesel, W. Keith Moser, R. Chelsea Nagy, Dev Niyogi, Hannah M. Palmer, Adam Pellegrini, Benjamin Poulter, Kevin Robertson, Adrian Rocha, Mojtaba Sadegh, Fernando De Sales, Fernanda Santos, Facundo Scordo, Joseph O. Sexton, A Surjalal Sharma, Alistair M. S. Smith, Amber Soja, Christopher Still, Tyson Swetnam, Alexandra D. Syphard, Morgan W. Tingey, Ali Tohidi, Anna Trugman, Merritt Turetsky, J. Morgan Varner, Yuhang Wang, Thea Whitman, Stephanie Yelenik, Xuan Zhang
The North American tree-ring fire-scar networkFire regimes in North American forests are diverse and modern fire records are often too short to capture important patterns, trends, feedbacks, and drivers of variability. Tree-ring fire scars provide valuable perspectives on fire regimes, including centuries-long records of fire year, season, frequency, severity, and size. Here, we introduce the newly compiled North American tree-ring fire-scarAuthorsEllis Margolis, Christopher H. Guiterman, Raphael Chavardès, Jonathan D. Coop, Kelsey Copes-Gerbitz, Denyse A. Dawe, Donald A. Falk, James D. Johnston, Evan Larson, Hangkyo Lim, Joseph M. Marschall, Cameron E. Naficy, Adam T. Naito, Marc-André Parisien, Sean A. Parks, Jeanne Portier, Helen M. Poulos, Kevin M. Robertson, James H. Speer, Michael C. Stambaugh, Thomas W. Swetnam, Alan J. Tepley, Ichchha Thapa, Craig D. Allen, Yves Bergeron, Lori D. Daniels, Peter Z. Fulé, David Gervais, Martin P. Girardin, Grant L. Harley, Jill E. Harvey, Kira M. Hoffman, Jean M. Huffman, Matthew D. Hurteau, Lane B. Johnson, Charles W. Lafon, Manuel K. Lopez, R. Stockton Maxwell, Jed Meunier, Malcolm North, Monica T. Rother, Micah R. Schmidt, Rosemary L. Sherriff, Lauren A. Stachowiak, Alan H. Taylor, Erana J. Taylor, Valerie Trouet, Miguel L. Villarreal, Larissa L. Yocom, Karen B. Arabas, Alexis H. Arizpe, Dominique Arseneault, Alicia Azpeleta Tarancón, Christopher H. Baisan, Erica Bigio, Franco Biondi, Gabriel D. Cahalan, Anthony C. Caprio, Julián Cerano-Paredes, Brandon M. Collins, Daniel C. Dey, Igor Drobyshev, Calvin A. Farris, M. Adele Fenwick, William T. Flatley, M. Lisa Floyd, Ze'ev Gedalof, Andres Holz, Lauren F. Howard, David W. Huffman, Jose Iniguez, Kurt F. Kipfmueller, Stanley G Kitchen, Keith Lombardo, Donald McKenzie, Andrew G. Merschel, Kerry L. Metlen, Jesse Minor, Christopher D. O'Connor, Laura Platt, William J. Platt, Thomas Saladyga, Amanda B. Stan, Scott L. Stephens, Colleen Sutheimer, Ramzi Touchan, Peter J. Weisberg
Vegetation type conversion in the US Southwest: Frontline observations and management responsesForest and nonforest ecosystems of the western United States are experiencing major transformations in response to land-use change, climate warming, and their interactive effects with wildland fire. Some ecosystems are transitioning to persistent alternative types, hereafter called “vegetation type conversion” (VTC). VTC is one of the most pressing management issues in the southwestern US, yet curAuthorsChristopher H. Guiterman, Rachel M. Gregg, Laura A.E. Marshall, Jill J. Beckmann, Phillip J. van Mantgem, Donald A. Falk, Jon Keeley, Anthony C. Caprio, Jonathan D. Coop, Paula J. Fornwalt, Collin Haffey, R. Keala Hagmann, Stephen Jackson, Ann M. Lynch, Ellis Margolis, Christopher Marks, Marc D. Meyer, Hugh Safford, Alexandra Dunya Syphard, Alan H. Taylor, Craig Wilcox, Dennis Carril, Carolyn Armstrong Enquist, David W. Huffman, Jose Iniguez, Nicole A. Molinari, Christina M Restaino, Jens T. Stevens
Joint effects of climate, tree size, and year on annual tree growth derived using tree-ring records of ten globally distributed forestsTree rings provide an invaluable long-term record for understanding how climate and other drivers shape tree growth and forest productivity. However, conventional tree-ring analysis methods were not designed to simultaneously account for the effects of climate, tree size, and other drivers on individual growth, which has limited the potential to use tree rings to understand forest productivity, itAuthorsKristina J. Anderson-Teixeira, Valentine Herrmann, Christy Rollinson, Bianca Gonzales, Erika B. Gonzalez-Akre, Neil Pederson, M. Ross Alexander, Craig D. Allen, Raquel Alfaro-Sánchez, Tala Awada, Jennifer L. Baltzer, Patrick J. Baker, Joseph D. Birch, Sarayudh Bunyavejchewin, Paolo Cherubini, Stewart J. Davies, Cameron Dow, Ryan Helcoski, Jakub Kašpar, James A. Lutz, Ellis Margolis, Justin Maxwell, Sean M. McMahon, Camille Piponiot, Sabrina E. Russo, Pavel Šamonil, Anastasia E. Sniderhan, Alan J. Tepley, Ivana Vašíčková, Mart Vlam, Pieter A. Zuidema
Tamm review: Postfire landscape management in frequent-fire conifer forests of the southwestern United StatesThe increasing incidence of wildfires across the southwestern United States (US) is altering the contemporary forest management template within historically frequent-fire conifer forests. An increasing fraction of southwestern conifer forests have recently burned, and many of these burned landscapes contain complex mosaics of surviving forest and severely burned patches without surviving conifer tAuthorsJens T. Stevens, Collin Haffey, Jonathan D. Coop, Paula J. Fornwalt, Larissa Yocom, Craig D. Allen, Anne Bradley, Owen T. Burney, Dennis Carril, Marin E. Chambers, Theresa B. Chapman, Sandra L. Haire, Matthew D. Hurteau, José M. Iniguez, Ellis Margolis, Christopher Marks, Laura A. E. Marshall, Kyle C. Rodman, Camille S. Stevens-Rumann, Andrea E. Thode, Jessica J. Walker
Investigating vegetation responses to underground nuclear explosions through integrated analysesVegetation has the potential to respond to underground nuclear explosions, yet these links have not been fully explored. Given the lack of previously described signatures, the changes in vegetation are possibly subtle. The integration of multiple different data streams is potentially a useful approach to improve signal detection. Here, we investigate whether semi-arid vegetation growth patterns reAuthorsKurt Solander, Adam D. Collins, Erika Swanson, Ellis Margolis, Brandon Crawford, Elizabeth Miller, Min Chen, Anita Lavadie-Bulnes, Max Ryan, Isaac Borrego, Sanna Sevanto, Emily Schultz-Fellenz
Native American fire management at an ancient wildland–urban interface in the Southwest United StatesThe intersection of expanding human development and wildland landscapes—the “wildland–urban interface” or WUI—is one of the most vexing contexts for fire management because it involves complex interacting systems of people and nature. Here, we document the dynamism and stability of an ancient WUI that was apparently sustainable for more than 500 y. We combine ethnography, archaeology, paleoecologyAuthorsChristopher Roos, Thomas W. Swetnam, T. J. Ferguson, Matthew J. Liebmann, Rachel A. Loehman, John Welch, Ellis Margolis, Christopher H. Guiterman, William Hockaday, Michael Aiuvalasit, Jenna Battillo, Joshua Farella, Christopher Kiahtipes
Valleys of fire: Historical fire regimes of forest-grassland ecotones across the montane landscape of the Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico, USAContextMontane grasslands and forest-grassland ecotones are unique and dynamic components of many landscapes, but the processes that regulate their dynamics are difficult to observe over ecologically relevant time spans.ObjectivesWe aimed to demonstrate the efficacy of using grassland-forest ecotone trees to reconstruct spatial and temporal properties of the historical fire regime in a complex lanAuthorsJ. J. Dewar, Donald A. Falk, T. W. Swetnam, C. H. Baisan, Craig D. Allen, R. R. Parmenter, Ellis Margolis
Dendrochronology of a rare long-lived mediterranean shrubCeanothus verrucosus (CEVE) is a globally rare, long-lived, chaparral shrub endemic to coastal southern California (CA) and northern Mexico. There is concern for CEVE persistence because of habitat loss, fire, and climate change, yet little is known about basic features of the plant, including whether it contains annual rings, plant age, and climate–growth response. Growth-ring analysis was challeAuthorsEllis Margolis, Keith Lombardo, Andrew E. Smith
Wildfire-driven forest conversion in western North American landscapesChanging disturbance regimes and climate can overcome forest ecosystem resilience. Following high-severity fire, forest recovery may be compromised by lack of tree seed sources, warmer and drier postfire climate, or short-interval reburning. A potential outcome of the loss of resilience is the conversion of the prefire forest to a different forest type or nonforest vegetation. Conversion implies mAuthorsJonathan D. Coop, Sean A. Parks, Camile S Stevens-Rumann, Shelley D. Crausbay, Philip E. Higuera, Matthew D. Hurteau, Alan J. Tepley, Ellen Whitman, Timothy J Assal, Brandon M. Collins, Kimberley T Davis, Solomon Dobrowski, Donald A. Falk, Paula J. Fornwalt, Peter Z Fulé, Brian J. Harvey, Van R. Kane, Caitlin E. Littlefield, Ellis Margolis, Malcolm North, Marc-André Parisien, Susan Prichard, Kyle C. Rodman
Climate relationships with increasing wildfire in the southwestern US from 1984 to 2015Over the last several decades in forest and woodland ecosystems of the southwestern United States, wildfire size and severity have increased, thereby increasing the vulnerability of these systems to type conversions, invasive species, and other disturbances. A combination of land use history and climate change is widely thought to be contributing to the changing fire regimes. We examined climate-fAuthorsStephanie Mueller, Andrea E. Thode, Ellis Margolis, Larissa Yocom, Jesse M. Young, José M. Iniguez
Non-USGS Publications**Guiterman, C.H., Margolis, E.Q., Swetnam, T.W. 2015. Dendroecological methods for reconstructing high severity fire in pine-oak forests. Tree-Ring Research 71(2):67-77. http://doi.org/10.3959/1536-1098-71.2.67Margolis, E.Q. and Farris, C.A. 2014. Post-fire quaking aspen regeneration in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA. Fire Ecology 10(3):14-26. http://doi.org/10.4996/fireecology.0703088Margolis, E.Q. 2014. Fire exclusion linked to increased forest density in a piñon-juniper savanna landscape. International Journal of Wildland Fire 23:234-245. http://doi.org/10.1071/WF13053Fule, P.Z., Swetnam, T.W., Brown, P.M., Falk, D.A., Peterson, D.L., Allen, C.D., Aplet, G.H., Battaglia, M.A., Binkley, D., Farris, C., Keane, R.E., Margolis, E.Q., Grissino-Mayer, H., Miller, C., Sieg, C.H., Skinner, C., Stephens, S.L., and Taylor, A. 2013. Unsupported inferences of high severity fire in historical western United States dry forests: Response to Williams and Baker. Global Ecology and Biogeography. http://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12136.
Margolis, E.Q. and Swetnam, T.W. 2013. Historical fire-climate relationships of upper elevation (>2700m) fire regimes in the southwestern United States. International Journal of Wildland Fire 22:588-598. http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF12064Margolis, E.Q., Huffman, D.W., and Iñiguez, J.M. 2013. Southwestern mixed-conifer forests: evaluating reference conditions to guide ecological restoration treatments. Ecological Restoration Institute Working Paper No. 28. Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ. http://library.eri.nau.edu/gsdl/collect/erilibra/index/assoc/D2013020.dir/doc.pdfMargolis, E.Q., Swetnam, T.W., and Allen, C.D. 2011. Historical stand-replacing fire in upper montane forests of the Madrean Sky Islands and Mogollon Plateau, southwestern USA. Fire Ecology 7(3):88-107. http://doi.org/10.4996/fireecology.0703088Margolis, E.Q., Meko, D.M., and Touchan, R. 2011. A tree-ring reconstruction of streamflow in the Santa Fe River, New Mexico. Journal of Hydrology 397:118-127. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2010.11.042Margolis, E.Q. and Balmat, J. 2009. Fire history and fire-climate relationships along a fire regime gradient in the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed, New Mexico, USA. Forest Ecology & Management 258:2416-2430. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2009.08.019Farris, C.A., E.Q. Margolis, and J.A. Kupfer. 2008. Spatial Characteristics of Fire Severity Patches in Relation to Fire Growth in a Rocky Mountain Subalpine Forest. In: Proceedings: Managing Fire and Fuels in the Remaining Wildlands and Open Spaces of the Southwestern United States. U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station PSW-GTR-189. http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr189/psw_gtr189_175-184_farris.pdfMargolis, E.Q., Swetnam, T.W. and Allen C.D. 2007. A stand-replacing fire history in the Southern Rocky Mountains. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 37:2227-2241. http://doi.org/10.1139/X07-079
**Disclaimer: The views expressed in Non-USGS publications are those of the author and do not represent the views of the USGS, Department of the Interior, or the U.S. Government.
Long-term, Place-based, Science and Ecological MonitoringFor over 30 years we have monitored the ecosystem dynamics of the mesas and mountains of northern New Mexico, co-located with mangers. We use a place-based science approach, defined as “science that is founded on long-term, repeated, field data and observations, as well as traditional knowledges, and regularly engages local managers and community members.” This approach enables us to provide land...
Synthesis of the new North American tree-ring fire-scar network: using past and present fire-climate relationships to improve projections of future wildfireIncreasing wildfire activity in much of North America is having severe impacts on society and ecosystems. Climate change is a key driver of changing fire regimes across North America, with varying expressions across the continent. Modern fire records, while useful, are too short to fully characterize the complex patterns and non-linear dynamics of fire-climate relationships that are required to un
Next Generation Fire Modeling to Inform the Management of Climate and Fire Driven Ecological Transformations in the Rio Grande BasinThe warming climate combined with a century of fuel build up (i.e. burnable plant materials found in the forest) due to fire suppression are driving megafires that threaten life and property and are severely altering ecosystems. Many of these fires are converting large areas of forest to shrub fields or grasslands, termed “ecological transformations.” Although uncharacteristically severe fires are...
Delivering the North American tree-ring fire history network through a web application and an R packageWildfires are increasing across the western U.S., causing damage to ecosystems and communities. Addressing the fire problem requires understanding the trends and drivers of fire, yet most fire data is limited only to recent decades. Tree-ring fire scars provide fire records spanning 300-500 years, yet these data are largely inaccessible to potential users. Our project will deliver the newly compil
Effects of disturbance and drought on the forests and hydrology of the Southern Rocky MountainsClimate-related forest disturbances, particularly drought-induced tree mortality and large, high-severity fires from increasingly warm and dry conditions, are altering forest ecosystems and the ecosystem services society depends on (e.g., water supplies). Our research combines long-term place-based ecological data, diverse methods (e.g., paleo, remote-sensing), and networking approaches to...
Using the Past and the Present To Understand Fire Ecology in the Range of the Gunnison Sage-GrouseLittle is known about the role of fire in the sagebrush ecosystem within the range of the Gunnison sage-grouse (Centrocercus minimus), and fire has been mostly absent from these systems in the 20th century, partially owing to active fire suppression.
Fort Collins Science Center Labs and FacilitiesThe Fort Collins Science Center has scientists working in several diverse locations as well as three in house highly specialized laboratories, studying subjects from molecular ecology to brown treesnakes, dendroecology to streamflows, and macroinvertebrate species to Burmese pythons. Our extraordinary scientists work in each of these locations advancing studies in their particluar areas of study...
The New Mexico Landscapes Field StationThe New Mexico Landscapes Field Station is a place-based, globally-connected, ecological research group that studies and interprets ecosystem and wildlife dynamics, working with land managers and community leaders to deliver solutions that foster the linked health of human and natural systems. Our partnerships, and co-location, with land management agencies provide us with opportunities to deliver...
The Western Mountain Initiative (WMI)Western Mountain Initiative (WMI) is a long-term collaboration between FORT, WERC, NOROCK, USFS, NPS, LANL, and universities worldwide to address changes in montane forests and watersheds due to climate change. Current emphases include altered forest disturbance regimes (fire, die-off, insect outbreaks) and hydrology; interactions between plants, water, snow, nutrient cycles, and climate; and...
Post-fire Recovery Patterns in Southwestern ForestsHigh-severity crown fires in Southwestern dry-conifer forests — resulting from fire suppression, fuel buildups, and drought — are creating large treeless areas that are historically unprecedented in size. These recent stand-replacing fires have reset extensive portions of Southwest forest landscapes, fostering post-fire successional vegetation that can alter ecological recovery trajectories away...
New Mexico Dendroecology LabUsing tree ring analysis as a primary research tool, we conduct landscape-scale ecological research that focuses on the effects of climate variability on forest ecology, fire ecology, and ecohydrology. We are the only tree-ring lab in New Mexico, working in close collaboration with Bandelier National Monument and Emeritus Regents’ Professor Dr. Thomas Swetnam. However, we were not the first...
Western Mountain Initiative: Southern Rocky MountainsMountain ecosystems of the western U.S. provide irreplaceable goods and services such as water, wood, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities, but their potential responses to projected climatic patterns are poorly understood. The overarching objective of the Western Mountain Initiative (WMI) is to understand and predict the responses—emphasizing sensitivities, thresholds, resistance, and...
North American tree-ring fire-scar site descriptionsFire size and severity continue to increase across large parts of North America, driven by a combination of climate change and effects of human land use. Instrumental records are too short to fully understand patterns, trends, and drivers of fire that are necessary to model future fire. Tree-ring fire scars provide centuries-long records of fire regimes, including fire frequency, season, size, and