David R. Foster

David R. Foster

Director of Harvard Forest
Senior Lecturer on Biology
David R. Foster

David Foster has been a faculty member in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard since 1983 and Director of the Harvard Forest, the University's 4000-acre ecological laboratory and classroom in central Massachusetts, since 1990. David has a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Minnesota and has conducted studies in the boreal forests of Labrador, Sweden, and Norway and the forests of Puerto Rico, the Yucatan, and Patagonia in addition to his primary research on landscape dynamics in New England. His interests focus on understanding the changes in forest ecosystems that result from human and natural disturbance and applying these results to the conservation and management of natural and cultural landscapes. At Harvard University David teaches courses on forest ecology and environmental change.

Recent Publications (Books):

Foster, D. R. 2017.  A Meeting of Land and Sea.  The Nature and Future of Martha’s Vineyard.  Yale University: Yale University Press.

Foster, D. R., Lambert, K. F., Kittredge, D. B., Donahue, B. M., Hart, C. M., Labich, W. G., Meyer, S., Thompson, J., Buchanan, M., Levitt, J. N., Pershel, R., Ross, K., Elkins, G., Daigle, C., Hall, B., Faison, E. K., D'Amato, A. W., Forman, R. T. T., Del Tredici, P., Irland, L. C., Colburn, B. A., Orwig, D. A., Aber, J. D., Berger, A., Driscoll, C. T., Keeton, W. S., Lilieholm, R. J., Pederson, N., Ellison, A. M., Hunter, M. L., & Fahey, T. J. 2017. Wildlands and Woodlands, Farmlands and Communities: Broadening the Vision for New England. Petersham, MA Harvard Forest.

Foster, D. R., Baiser, B., Barker Plotkin, A., D'Amato, A. W., Ellison, A. M., Orwig, D. A., Oswald, W. W., & Thompson, J. R. (2014). Hemlock: A Forest Giant on the Edge. Yale University: Yale University Press.

Recent Publications (Articles):

Oswald, W. W., Foster, D. R., Shuman, B. N., Doughty, E. D., Faison, E. K., Hall, B. R., Hansen, B. C. S., Lindbladh, M., Marroquin, A., Truebe, S. A. 2018. Subregional variability in the response of New England vegetation to postglacial climate change. Journal of Biogeography 45: 2375–2388.

Sass, E. M., D'Amato, A. W., Foster, D. R. 2018. Lasting legacies of historical clearcutting, wind, and salvage logging on old-growth Tsuga canadensis-Pinus strobus forests. Forest Ecology and Management 419-420: 31-41.

Sass, E. M., D'Amato, A. W., Foster, D. R., Barker Plotkin, A., Fraver, S., Schoonmaker, P. K., Orwig, D. A. 2018. Long-term influence of disturbance-generated microsites on forest structural and compositional development. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 48: 958-965.

Barker Plotkin, A., Schoonmaker, P. K., Leon, B., & Foster, D. R. 2017. Microtopography and ecology of pit-mound structures in second-growth versus old-growth forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 404, 14-23.

D'Amato, A. W., Orwig, D. A., Foster, D. R., Barker Plotkin, A., Schoonmaker, P. K., Wagner*, M. R. 2017. Long-term structural and biomass dynamics of virgin Tsuga canadensis-Pinus strobus forests after hurricane disturbance. Ecology 98: 721-733.

Daru, B. H., Park, D. S., Primack, R. B., Willis, C. G., Barrington, D. S., Whitfeld, T. J. S., Seidler, R. G., Sweeney, P. W., Foster, D. R., Ellison, A. M., Davis, C. C. 2017. Widespread sampling biases in herbaria revealed from large-scale digitization. New Phytologist 217: 939-955.

Gao, L, Huang, Y., Shuman, B., Oswald, W. W., Foster, D. R. 2017. A high-resolution hydrogen isotope record of behenic acid for the past 16 kyr in the northeastern United States. Quaternary International 449: 1-11. 

Hirsch, J., Foster, D. R., Hart, C. M., Kelley, M. A. 2017. And Again: Photographs from the Harvard Forest. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 

Oswald, W. W., Doughty, E. D., Foster, D. R., Shuman, B. N., & Wagner, D. L. 2017. Evaluating the role of insects in the middle-Holocene Tsuga decline. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society, 144(1), 35-39.

Courses taught:

Freshman Seminar 21w. Research at the Harvard Forest: Global Change Ecology, Forest Ecosystem Function and the Future

OEB 150 Conservation Ecology and Practice

OEB 299r Forest Practice and Research


Contact Information

The Harvard Forest
324 North Main Street
Petersham, MA 01366

Harvard University Herbaria
22 Divinity Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
p: 978-724-3302

Search by Last Name

Faculty Affiliation