Dr. Matthew Brooks' primary research emphasis is on the ecology and management of alien plants and fire in the deserts and mountains of western North America. Other research topics include drought, wildlife ecology, ecological restoration, and the ecological effects of various land-use regimes. Dr. Brooks serves on the editorial boards of the journals Fire Ecology and Rangeland Ecology and Management, and was a charter editorial board member of Invasive Plant Science and Management. Dr. Brooks has taught at the high school, community college, and university levels and has advised numerous Master's and Doctoral students.
- Ph.D., Biology, concentration in Ecology and Population Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA 1998
- M.A., Biology, California State University, Fresno, CA 1992
- Teaching Credential, Biology/Physical Sciences, California State University, Fresno, CA 1990
- B.S., Biological Sciences, University of California, Irvine, CA 1987
- Invasive plants
- Anthropogenic disturbance
- Land use
Science and Products
Fuel conditions and fire regimes in western forests and deserts have been altered due to past land management, biological invasions, and recent extreme weather events and climate shifts. These changes have created extreme fire risk to local and regional communities, threatening their economic health related to wildland recreation, forest production, livestock operations, and other uses of public lands. Dr. Matthew Brooks and his staff at the Yosemite-Oakhurst Field Station develop science products to help understand why these changes are occurring and what land managers can do to mitigate their negative effects. They communicate this information to land managers through direct relationships, workshops, shared databases, and interagency working groups. The information is communicated and archived for use by the general scientific community through journal articles, books, fact sheets, scientific meetings, and involvement by Dr. Brooks and his staff in the Association for Fire Ecology.
Alternative pathways to landscape transformation: Invasive grasses, burn severity and fire frequency in arid ecosystems
Arid ecosystems are often vulnerable to transformation to invasive-dominated states following fire, but data on persistence of these states are sparse. The grass/fire cycle is a feedback process between invasive annual grasses and fire frequency that often leads to the formation of alternative vegetation states dominated by the invasive grasses....Klinger, Robert C.; Brooks, Matthew L.
Climate change and tree-line ecosystems in the Sierra Nevada: Habitat suitability modelling to inform high-elevation forest dynamics monitoring
Whitebark pine and foxtail pine serve foundational roles in the subalpine zone of the Sierra Nevada. They provide the dominant structure in tree-line forests and regulate key ecosystem processes and community dynamics. Climate change models suggest that there will be changes in temperature regimes and in the timing and magnitude of precipitation...Moore, Peggy E.; Alvarez, Otto; McKinney, Shawn T.; Li, Wenkai; Brooks, Matthew L.; Guo, Qinghua
California Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis) habitat use patterns in a burned landscape
Fire is a dynamic ecosystem process of mixed-conifer forests of the Sierra Nevada, but there is limited scientific information addressing wildlife habitat use in burned landscapes. Recent studies have presented contradictory information regarding the effects of stand-replacing wildfires on Spotted Owls (Strix occidentalis) and their habitat. While...Eyes, Stephanie; Roberts, Susan L.; Johnson, Matthew D.
Evidence of fuels management and fire weather influencing fire severity in an extreme fire event
Following changes in vegetation structure and pattern, along with a changing climate, large wildfire incidence has increased in forests throughout the western U.S. Given this increase there is great interest in whether fuels treatments and previous wildfire can alter fire severity patterns in large wildfires. We assessed the relative influence of...Lydersen, Jamie M; Collins, Brandon M.; Brooks, Matthew L.; Matchett, John R.; Shive, Kristen L.; Povak, Nicholas A.; Kane, Van R.; Smith, Douglas F.
A multi-scale evaluation of pack stock effects on subalpine meadow plant communities in the Sierra Nevada
We evaluated the influence of pack stock (i.e., horse and mule) use on meadow plant communities in Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks in the Sierra Nevada of California. Meadows were sampled to account for inherent variability across multiple scales by: 1) controlling for among-meadow variability by using remotely sensed hydro-climatic and...Lee, Steven R.; Berlow, Eric L.; Ostoja, Steven M.; Brooks, Matthew L.; Génin, Alexandre; Matchett, John R.; Hart, Stephen C.
Fire and the distribution and uncertainty of carbon sequestered as above-ground tree biomass in Yosemite and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Fire is one of the principal agents changing forest carbon stocks and landscape level distributions of carbon, but few studies have addressed how accurate carbon accounting of fire-killed trees is or can be. We used a large number of forested plots (1646), detailed selection of species-specific and location-specific allometric equations,...Lutz, James A.; Matchett, John R.; Tarnay, Leland W.; Smith, Douglas F.; Becker, Kendall M.L.; Furniss, Tucker J.; Brooks, Matthew L.
Fire patterns among ecological zones in the California desert, 1984–2013
The California desert occupies the southeastern 27% of California (11,028,300 ha, 110,283 km2 or 27,251,610 ac). It includes two ecoregional provinces comprised of five desert regions (“ecological sections”; Miles and Goudy 1997). The American Semi-Desert and Desert Province (warm deserts) includes the Mojave Desert, Sonoran Desert, and Colorado...Brooks, Matthew L.; Matchett, John R.
Conditional vulnerability of plant diversity to atmospheric nitrogen deposition across the United States
Atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition has been shown to decrease plant species richness along regional deposition gradients in Europe and in experimental manipulations. However, the general response of species richness to N deposition across different vegetation types, soil conditions, and climates remains largely unknown even though responses may...Simkin, Samuel M.; Allen, Edith B.; Bowman, William D.; Clark, Christopher M.; Belnap, Jayne; Brooks, Matthew L.; Cade, Brian S.; Collins, Scott L.; Geiser, Linda H.; Gilliam, Frank S.; Jovan, Sarah E.; Pardo, Linda H.; Schulz, Bethany K.; Stevens, Carly J.; Suding, Katharine N.; Throop, Heather L.; Waller, Donald M.
Land uses, fire, and invasion: Exotic annual Bromus and human dimensions
Human land uses are the primary cause of the introduction and spread of exotic annual Bromusspecies. Initial introductions were likely linked to contaminated seeds used by homesteading farmers in the late 1880s and early 1900s. Transportation routes aided their spread. Unrestricted livestock grazing from the 1800s through the mid-1900s reduced...Pyke, David A.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Beck, Jeffrey L.; Brooks, Matthew L.; Mealor, Brian A.
Exotic annual Bromus invasions: comparisons among species and ecoregions in the western United States
Exotic annual Bromus species are widely recognized for their potential to invade, dominate, and alter the structure and function of ecosystems. In this chapter, we summarize the invasion potential, ecosystem threats, and management strategies for different Bromus species within each of five ecoregions of the western United States. We characterize...Brooks, Matthew L.; Brown, Cynthia S.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; D'Antonio, Carla M.; Keeley, Jon E.; Belnap, Jayne
Precipitation regime classification for the Mojave Desert: Implications for fire occurrence
Long periods of drought or above-average precipitation affect Mojave Desert vegetation condition, biomass and susceptibility to fire. Changes in the seasonality of precipitation alter the likelihood of lightning, a key ignition source for fires. The objectives of this study were to characterize the relationship between recent, historic, and future...Tagestad, Jerry; Brooks, Matthew L.; Cullinan, Valerie; Downs, Janelle; McKinley, Randy
Wildfire, climate, and invasive grass interactions negatively impact an indicator species by reshaping sagebrush ecosystems
Iconic sagebrush ecosystems of the American West are threatened by larger and more frequent wildfires that can kill sagebrush and facilitate invasion by annual grasses, creating a cycle that alters sagebrush ecosystem recovery post disturbance. Thwarting this accelerated grass–fire cycle is at the forefront of current national conservation efforts...Coates, Peter S.; Ricca, Mark; Prochazka, Brian; Brooks, Matthew L.; Doherty, Kevin E.; Kroger, Travis; Blomberg, Erik J.; Hagen, Christian A.; Casazza, Michael L.
OAKHURST, Calif. -- Overall fire threats to greater sage-grouse habitat are much higher in the western part of the species’ range than in the eastern part, according to a U.S. Geological Survey fire threats assessment study published today.
Slowing fire-related population declines in greater sage-grouse in the Great Basin over the next 30 years may depend on the intensity of fire suppression efforts in core breeding areas and long-term patterns of precipitation, according to a just-published USGS-led study.