DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCE SCIENCES
Washington’s natural ecosystems are of immense importance to the State. Roughly one-half of the State
is forested and one-fourth of Washington is forested/non-forested rangeland. The resources provided by
these two ecosystems plus wetland, freshwater, and coastal ecosystems contribute substantially to the
State’s economic vitality, not only through products generated by natural resource industries (Washington
is the second largest lumber producing state in the country.), but also through a wide array of other com-
modity and amenity values. Appropriate stewardship is necessary if natural resources are to be sus-
tained in the face of societal needs. Demands upon natural resources have not only increased, but
changed over the past several decades. While traditional, commodity-based values remain highly impor-
tant, increased public concern over ecologic and environmental values has significantly changed the way
natural resources are viewed and managed.
Natural Resource Sciences currently has 16 tenure track faculty lines in the department and one partial
appointment with Plant Pathology. These appointments include seven professors, seven associate pro-
fessors and one assistant professor. Two faculty lines are currently vacant and two additional lines are
expected to become vacant during 2008. Of these faculty, 3.3 FTE's are allocated to extension.
Teaching and Learning: The Department of Natural Resource Sciences (NRS) provides natural re-
sources education, research, and extension programs to a large and diverse clientele. On the Pullman
campus, the Department offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Natural Resource Sciences, a Mas-
ter of Science in Natural Resource Sciences (MS) (thesis), a Master of Science in Natural Resources
(MS) (non-thesis) and a doctoral degree in Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences (PhD).
The strength of the BS in Natural Resource Sciences degree program lies in its integration and diversity
across all disciplinary fields relevant to natural resource sciences (wildlife, forestry, etc.). Diversity exists
both in terms of the variety of natural resource disciplines, subjects, and perspectives featured in our pro-
grams, and in terms of the cultural and human breadth we strive to impart, respect, and serve the state's
needs. Integration exists in terms of emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of natural resource science
and the necessity of interrelating science with the socioeconomic, cultural, political, and ethical context
within which resource management is practiced. Professional integration across these areas is a critically
important aspect of land management today.
The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Natural Resource Sciences offers majors in Forestry, Wildlife Ecology,
and Natural Resources. Our BS in Natural Resource Sciences with a major in Forestry is accredited by
the Society of American Foresters (SAF) and is the only accredited undergraduate forestry degree offered
in the State of Washington. (Note: In a recent curricular change, the University of Washington dropped its
SAF accredited undergraduate degree in forestry. Instead it began offering a professional masters de-
gree Masters of Forest Resources (MFR) in 2006. The MFR received SAF accreditation in 2007). This is
an important distinction, since many forestry jobs require a degree from an SAF accredited program.
Students completing the requirements for a BS in Natural Resource Sciences with a major in Wildlife
Ecology meet the educational requirements to become certified wildlife biologists. The department also
offers students interested in pursuing a degree in veterinary medicine the opportunity to pursue a degree
in wildlife ecology, while completing the additional science requirements needed to be considered for ad-
mission to the College of Veterinary Medicine. Students completing a major in natural resources focus on
the broader field of natural resources and often complete a minor in another area of specialization (e.g.
sociology). Nearly every land grant university located in states with a significant portion of its land in fo-
rested ecosystems offers degrees both of these areas.
The Master of Science in Natural Resource Sciences is designed to provide greater a emphasis on re-
search-derived education. The PhD in Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences is designed to of-
fer students the opportunity to attain an interdisciplinary terminal degree that integrates the various fields
of science related to environment and natural resources and requires independent development of origi-
The goal of the department's graduate program is designed to provide students an advanced education in
the principles and applications of natural resource sciences. The Department of Natural Resource
Sciences offers a wide range of graduate educational opportunities designed to meet the following: 1) to
couple an atmosphere of scholarship with research and educational opportunities that will produce people
capable of responding to the complex issues of understanding, management, use and protection of natu-
ral resources, 2) foster the pursuit of research in the natural resource sciences that will lead to better un-
derstanding of the ecological, social, and economic relationships inherent to natural resource issues, and
3) produce scientists and practicing professionals better prepared to assume leadership roles in educa-
tion, research, management and/or other careers related to natural resources and the environment.
Both professional accreditation and professional certification provide the fundamental standard upon
which employers rely in the hiring of our undergraduates. It is an important factor in student demand for
our programs. Professional job opportunities for our graduates vary by discipline/major, with wildlife ma-
jors having the most difficulty obtaining professional employment upon graduation to forestry majors
which typically have multiple employment opportunities. Graduates of masters and PhD programs have
been extremely successful in obtaining professional employment. Masters level graduates typically find
employment in state and federal agencies as well as in the private sector, if they do not choose to pursue
a PhD. Students completing the PhD typically move into positions in federal agencies or consulting firms,
with a limited number taking post doc positions with the goal of pursuing academic positions.
Undergraduate enrollment in the department during the fall of 2007 totaled 136 bachelor level students
including uncertified freshmen students being advised in the department. Based on the institutional data
provided 157 students in the department were awarded a Bachelor of Sciences degree over the period
2002 -2007 . Faculty in the department advised seven MS level and 13 PhD level students in the fall of
2007. The department generated 2,223 student credit hours from courses offered by department in the
2007-2008 academic year.
In addition to advising masters level students within our own program, departmental faculty also serve as
major advisor for a limited number of students seeking a Master of Science in Environmental Science.
Faculty in the department often provide research support for these students as well. It should be further
noted that our PhD program is joint with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. Table 1 pro-
vides an annual summary of masters and PhD graduates over the past five years for all of these degrees
in which a faculty member served as the major advisor for the student successfully completing their de-
gree. This information is provided as further clarification of the data provided by institutional research,
since departmental participation is not broken out for the MS in Environmental Science or the joint PhD in
Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences.
The department provides limited instructional support for other programs through its one distance delivery
course – NATRS 450 Conservation Biology, and other courses such as NATRS 312 Society and Natural
Resources (course meets general education requirements as both a social science and a diversity
course) and NATRS 300 Natural Resource Ecology (a Tier II Science course) as well as through other
cross listed courses (e.g. NATRS 411 Limnology).
The adequacy of the department's faculty varies by disciplinary emphasis in the department. The de-
partment has the greatest concentrations of faculty expertise is in the areas of wildlife ecology and fore-
stry/landscape analysis including human dimensions of natural resources. Expertise in arid land ecosys-
tems and water resources are more limited. No single aspect of the department is particularly strong
when viewed solely from a disciplinary perspective alone. However, the department's greatest strength
and its greatest future potential lies in becoming a stronger multidisciplinary unit with a limited number of
areas of primary emphasis. As noted elsewhere, this is only possible because of the strength of other
units located on the Washington State University campus and through collaborative efforts with the Uni-
It is should be noted that all degrees awarded should be attributed to the BS in Natural Resource
Sciences; a limited students continue to be referenced under our previous degree programs. These are
indicated on the institutional research data as BSWL RS, BSFOR, BSNATR M, BSNRSFOR, and
BSWLMGT. This is largely a legacy software/data entry problem.
versity of Idaho located nine miles to the east. Historically this may have been viewed as a weakness, in
the era of increased collaboration; however, we see this as strength.
The Department of Natural Resource Sciences contributes directly to Goals I and II of the University Stra-
tegic Plan through modest size classes and opportunities for one-on-one interactions with faculty and other
students. Outside of the classroom, students have the opportunity to work with faculty on research
projects. Service learning projects also play an important role in some of our courses. We regularly eva-
luate our degree programs through formalized outcome assessment process and adjust our course offer-
ings accordingly (See Table 2 for faculty award). All students in the department are assigned a faculty
advisor to guide their academic careers. The department’s modest size provides opportunities for numer-
ous faculty and staff interactions and our collegial atmosphere are evidence of our commitment to create
an environment of trust and respect (Goal III). Acceptance of scholarly activity by high quality journals and
the success of our graduates is evidence of our shared commitment to quality in all of our activities (Goal
Scholarship and Research: Major areas of research include programs in aquatic ecology, wildlife forag-
ing ecology, wildlife nutrition, habitat/population ecology, landscape ecology, intensive culture of hybrid
poplars and resource sociology. Research capabilities are also enhanced by an array of faculty research
laboratories on the Pullman campus including the E.H. Steffen Center, the Bear Research Center, the
Small Mammal Research Facility, and the Wildlife Habitat Nutrition Laboratory. The WSU-Puyallup Re-
search and Extension Center houses the intensive culture forestry laboratory and testing facilities.
The following table summarizes the productivity of the department's faculty over the past five years. The
production of refereed journal articles is concentrated primarily among the younger faculty with an active
research program (Table 3). While the overall level of productivity is not as high as desired, a recent ar-
ticle in the Journal of Forestry ranked the department as tenth in the country in the publication of refe-
reed journal articles in the top five forestry journals on a per FTE basis. While the study has some ob-
vious limitations, it does serve to reinforce two attributes of the department's research program. First, the
department's faculty are actively working to publish in better outlets. Second, it reinforces the multidiscip-
linary nature of natural resource management issues today, since the department spans a wide range of
academic specializations – not just forestry as in the case of some of the other units included in the study.
For the fiscal years 2004 through 2006, grant expenditures averaged $116,430.78 per FTE (based on
12.5 FTEs employed as of January 2008). The ratio of three year average grant expenditures to state
and federal allocated dollars was 1.02 based on data compiled by the College of Agricultural, Human and
Natural Resources Sciences and was only slightly lower than the average for the college (1.08).
Interdisciplinary and across institution collaboration is very important to the success of our research pro-
gram. Faculty members regularly work and publish with faculty in other departments at Washington State
University and from other universities in the region and around the country. The faculty have close work-
ing relationships with scientists in the US Forest Service, other universities and various state and federal
Department faculty are engaged in a variety of international activities. Faculty members regularly present
papers at international conferences in Europe and Asia and three have established strong international
working relationships with faculty in Australia, France, and Ireland. Robert Wielgus recently returned from
a year long sabbatical in France working on predator-prey relationships among large carnivores (primarily
bears) in Europe. He has continued to work with his European counter parts since his return. Similarly,
Lisa Shipley just returned from a sabbatical in Australia, working on dietary analysis methods for animals
which primarily feed on otherwise toxic plants. Matthew S. Carroll also recently returned from a three
month Fulbright to Ireland. Matthew's work in Ireland focused on social/cultural resistance to afforestation
– a country which was largely deforested by the turn the last century, but historically was heavily forested.
The work by Wielgus, Shipley, and Carroll has provided a critical exchange of ideas in these areas and
Laband, D. N. and D. Zhang. 2006. Citations, publications and perceptions-based of the research im-
pact of North American forestry programs. Journal of Forestry 104(5):254-261
will likely lead to further international research efforts. In addition, David Baumgartner has also been
heavily engaged in international activities for over twenty years through IUFRO (International Union of
Forest Research Organizations) working in the area of small scale forestry. His efforts, in collaboration
with ten to fifteen others from around the world contributed significantly to the establishment of a new
journal in this area entitled: "Small Scale Forestry" about four years ago.
The quality and impact of the department's research is also reflected in the fact that a growing number of
faculty have been asked to serve on review panels for the National Science Program and other federal
competitive grants and received national awards for their work (Table 2). Research focusing on the man-
agement of cougars, mule deer, grizzly bears, pygmy rabbits have all had impact on the management of
these wildlife species within the State of Washington or other portions of the United States and Canada.
Captive work on grizzly bears is also gaining national recognition for its human health implications. De-
partmental research has contributed significantly to the public policy debate centered on the wildland ur-
ban interface (WUI) with respect to wildland fire policy in recent years.
Over the past five years the department has placed an ever increasing emphasis on research as result of
changes in college and university expectations and the desire of those faculty members with strong re-
search credentials to improve the stature of the unit's research reputation. This change has been evident
in various ways. Some examples include: 1) extramural funding has increased substantially since 2001,
2) faculty have begun placing a greater emphasis on the journal quality 3) the department has increased
the number of PhD students to slightly more than one PhD student for every masters student, and 4)
there is a strongly increased emphasis on competitive grants as a major source of research funding.
Outreach and Engagement: The Department currently has 3.3 FTE of state extension specialists (in-
cluding one faculty member who retired on December 31, 2007 and is currently on a soft money rehire for
one year). Two FTEs are currently devoted forestry extension efforts, with one faculty member located in
Pullman and one faculty who is housed in the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washing-
ton in Seattle. The latter arrangement has been in place since 1983 and was one of the first, if not the
first example, of co-locating a Washington State University faculty member at the University of Washing-
ton. The University of Washington does not have an extension mission, but has a well established Col-
lege of Forest Resources. This arrangement has been a highly successful arrangement over the past 25
years. In addition, the department has 0.5 FTE state extension in range management located on the
Pullman campus. An additional 0.8 FTE position in water resources extension is currently vacant due to
a failed search to refill this position last year.
The department's extension program has been one of its success stories for many years and is at the
heart of the college/university goal of imparting knowledge to the people of the state. The department's
extension faculty have been the "go to" place in the Pacific Northwest for coordinating large natural re-
source conferences. In addition, the faculty working in this area have won multiple national awards for
their outreach efforts in recent years for extension programming (Table 4). State extension specialists in
the department have a long and robust history of grantsmanship in the department. State and federal
funding in this area is highly leveraged by grant funds. Outreach clinics and workshops by state exten-
sion specialists reached 1771 individuals during 2007 alone. In addition, one faculty member has served
as program leader for natural resource extension in the college for the past three year. This partial ad-
ministrative position consumed at least half of this time. The most direct impact of the department's ex-
tension programming efforts has been on landowner behavior as reflected in repeat attendance at exten-
sion workshops. The natural resource extension program has a direct affect on the quality of the natural
environment within which the residents of the state live. It also assists the state's economy through the
advice given to non-industrial private forest (NIPF) landowners with respect to the management of their
forest lands (Washington's NIPF landowners own over 20 percent of commercial forest land in the state.).
As a result of faculty retirements we expect to see a greater emphasis on applied research by state ex-
tension specialists in the future. Some modest changes in areas of expertise also appear likely. An in-
creased emphasis on water and wildlife resources is currently being discussed.
A Future Vision: The department is currently working to refocus itself. The Department has recently re-
vised its mission and vision statements to more accurately reflect its future direction. The mission of the
Department of Natural Resource Sciences focuses on spatial relationships in plant, animal and human
ecology, with a particular emphasis on endangered species, riparian management, landscape ecology
and human/environmental interactions in the wildland/urban interface. The department seeks to advance
and impart knowledge of ecosystems and natural resources, including their attributes and functions; their
ecologic and societal values; and their conservation and management in an ecologically, socially and
economically sound, sustainable manner.
The department's vision is to advance scholarship on ecosystems and to become a leader in a few se-
lected areas of research and outreach within the broader field. The primary areas of emphasis will focus
on landscape ecology, aquatic and restoration ecology, endangered species and wildlife ecology, as well
as the associated human dimensions of ecosystems. This will be carried out within the framework of sus-
tainability. For greater clarity we have attempted to capture this mission and vision in a figure (Figure 1).
Statements highlighted in red indicate areas where further strengthening is needed through the refilling of
vacant or new positions.
These themes are supported by faculty members working in the specific areas as well as by faculty work-
ing in the broader area of landscape level analysis. It is this multidisciplinary focus that provides the ne-
cessary synergy for the department to function effectively at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
As a result of personnel changes and the elimination of two undergraduate majors in the department over
the past few years and those anticipated in the near future, we will increase faculty expertise in these
areas through new hires.
These changes in academic scope have allowed us to eliminate a number of low enrollment
courses/majors and to refocus our course offerings around three undergraduate majors – wildlife ecology,
forestry, and natural resource sciences. These reductions in scope combined with aggressive efforts to
increase our external linkages in key areas have allowed us to move beyond the pitfall of trying to be "one
deep in everything." These efforts are just beginning to bear fruit.
In order to be successful in improving the stature of the Department of Natural Resource Sciences must
continue to develop linkages with other WSU departments and with the College of Natural Resources at
the University of Idaho is very important. These external linkages provide extra and necessary resources
for a strong program.
The department feels it is critical that we maintain a strong multidisciplinary focus, since today's resource
management issues are invariably multidisciplinary in character as are the department remaining under-
graduate majors. Elimination of any of the remaining core areas of expertise would seriously weaken the
remaining department as a whole with little or no cost savings due to the highly integrated nature of the
course work required and overall faculty expertise needed to support its research and extension missions.
In order to progress we will need to hire a select number of key faculty members over the next few years
to refill vacant positions in the department. The new faculty must have a strong disciplinary focus as well
as a willingness and desire to work as members on one or more multidisciplinary teams. We will also
need to update our curricular offerings and refocus our outreach programs as time and personnel
The department could also benefit from the one or more strategic mergers with other units in such a way
as to further strengthen our core areas by favoring the depth of expertise over breadth. Over the past
seven years the department has made multiple attempts with the goal of forming a school focused along
these lines. So far these efforts have been unsuccessful; however, we have recently begun discussions
with the Department of Community and Rural Sociology and the School of Earth and Environmental
Sciences with the goal of forming a cross college school focusing on selected aspects of the environment.
The formation of a school of this type is wholly consistent with ongoing efforts to refocus the department.
Again we have attempted to capture the essence of this potential future unit in a graphic similar to the
previously referenced figure (See Figure 2). While it is premature to say whether or not this proposed
merger will be successful or not, the department is committed to continuing to explore opportunities to
strengthen the unit's long viability. Finally, with or without the formation of a school it is critical that the
unit continue to work toward building stronger collaborative efforts with other units on and off campus.
Table 1. MS and PhD Graduates by Fiscal Year.
2003 3 1
2004 3 2
2005 12 2
2006 1 3
2007 5 2
Table 2. Recent faculty awards for teaching, research and professional achievement.
Year Award Name Awarded To Awarding Organization(s)
2001- Distinguished Service Learning Lisa Shipley Community Service Learning,
2002 Award Washington State University
2002 Fellow in the Society of American Keith A. Blatner Society of American Foresters
2006 2006 Outstanding Article in Wild- Robert Wielgus The Wildlife Society
life Ecology and Management
2006 Outstanding Achievement Award Linda Hardesty Society for Range Management
for Research and Academia
2007 2007 Merit Award for Natural Re- Matthew S. Carroll Rural Sociological Society
Table 3. Refereed journal articles and book chapters published by faculty members in Natural Resources
Sciences by calendar year.
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
Refereed Journal Articles 14 18 21 14 18 18 14
Book Chapters 1 1 0 0 1 3 5
Table 4. List of recent national extension awards received in recent years by faculty in the Department of Natu-
ral Resource Sciences.
Year Award Name Awarded For Awarding Organization(s)
1999 Nonindustrial Private For- Forestry Stewardship Program National Association of Pro-
est Extension Award fessional Forestry Schools
and Colleges and National
Woodland Owners Associa-
2002 Bronze Award Newsletter Forest Stewardship Notes Association of Natural Re-
source Extension Profes-
2002 Rural Technology Initiative
Nonindustrial Private Forest Ex- National Association of Pro-
tension Award (Awarded jointly to Washington fessional Forestry Schools
State University and the Univer- and Colleges and National
sity of Washington) Woodland Owners Associa-
Includes students completing a MS in Natural Resource Sciences and students completing an MS in
Environmental Science who were advised by a faculty member in Natural Resource Sciences.
Includes only those students receiving a PhD in Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences who
were advised by a faculty member in Natural Resource Sciences.
Resource Ecology & Conservation
Landscape (Space) Animal habitats
GIS & remote sensing
Nutritional ecology Animals Conservation genetics
Entomology Crops& soils
Arid land plants Community sustainability Social
Invasive species & economic dimensions of
Restoration private forests
Plant health & physiology Wildland-urban interface
Sustainable forestry Statistics Extension
Riparian & wetland plants Natural resource agencies Human dimensions of wildlife
Figure 1. The Dept. of Resource Ecology & Conservation focuses on 1) how plants, animals, and humans interact in
space (ecology) across terrestrial and aquatic landscapes, and 2) how we can manage these organisms to ensure
sustainability of natural resources (conservation). Boxes denote current and emphases and growth areas
(red/bold). Dotted ovals show other WSU units and agencies that provide synergy.
School of Earth, Ecology & the Environment
Terrestrial vertebrates Geology
Aquatic vertebrates (fish & Soils
marine mammals) Salt & freshwater
Terrestrial invertebrates Land, water & air Climate change
Aquatic invertebrates Pollution
Endangered species &
Animals Social & economic
dimensions of of private
Human dimensions of
Plants People wildlife
Forest plants Spatial analysis
Arid land plants Landscape ecology
Wetland & riparian Landscape (Space) Animal movements
plants Animal habitats
Invasive species Urbanization
Restoration GIS & remote sensing
Sustainable forestry Statistics Watershed analysis
Figure. 2. The School of Earth, Ecology & the Environment would focus on all aspects of ecosystems, including 1)
biophysical processes associated with land, water & air, 2) how plants, animals & humans interact in space across
landscapes, and 3) how physical, biotic & human resources can be managed to ensure sustainability of our environ-
Fig. 1. The Department of Re-
source Ecology & Conservation
focuses on 1) how plants, ani-
mals and humans interact in
space & time (ecology) across
terrestrial and aquatic land-
scapes, and 2. How we can
manage these organisms to en-
sure sustainability of natural
resources (conservation). Box-
es denote current emphases and
proposed growth areas
(red/bold). Dotted ovals show
how other WSU units and
resource agencies provide syn-
Fig. 2. The School of Earth,
Ecology and the Environment
would focus on all aspects of
ecosystems including 1) bio-
physical processes associated
land, water & air, 2) how
plants, animals, and humans
interact in space (ecology)
across landscapes, and 3) how
physical, biotic and human re-
sources can be managed to en-
sure sustainability of our envi-