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Thomas Doyle, Ph.D.

Prior to his retirement in 2021, Thomas Doyle's research focused on developing integrated simulation models of plant growth and succession at the leaf, tree, stand and landscape levels.


Thomas Doyle's models have predicted effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbance on the structure and function of coastal and floodplain forests. He applied dendroecological techniques of tree-ring analysis for climate reconstruction, disturbance interventions of floods and hurricanes, and forest model validation. Current ecosystem model applications include projected impacts of global climate change, sea-level rise, elevated carbon dioxide, and hurricane impact along with resource management issues of wetland restoration, fire, wastewater pollution, and landscape fragmentation.

Ecosystem analysis and modeling with a special emphasis on tree-ring applications, forest succession, and landscape simulation models, role of natural and anthropogenic disturbance and climate change on forest structure and diversity of coastal ecosystems of the southeastern United States and Caribbean regions.  


Doyle's research spans several decades of developing spatial simulation models for temperate and tropical ecosystems from mangroves, tidal freshwater forested wetlands and marshes to floodplain swamp forests, pine flatwoods, and montane eastern deciduous and tropical rain forests. His field and modeling research takes an integrated hierarchical approach to understanding physiological processes at the leaf layer and plant level, to competition and spatial relations of tree canopy and species dynamics at the stand and forest level, and landscape scale exchange of physical forcings of climate, flooding, fire, storms, and management of riverine and coastal systems. His dendrochronology research has shown that hurricane wind and surge evidence is imprinted in the growth record of surviving trees in coastal counties and that tree-ring chronologies from coastal locations are problematic for climate reconstruction for confounding storm influences.  His tree-ring collections in riverine floodplains shows that streamflow records are valuable climate proxies for rainfall distribution annually and seasonally, and that different tree species respond to temperature and precipitation to different degrees such that multi-species approach is more comprehensive for climate reconstruction than single species models.  His hurricane research and models are based on dozens of post-storm assessments in mangrove and tidal freshwater forests across the southeastern U.S., Caribbean, and Central America.  These investigations and tools have shown that hurricane intensity and frequency are important determinants of ecosystem type and structure based on measured species sensitivity to windthrow and surge impact.