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Jerry Franklin Oral History Interview, November 19, 2020

Oregon State University
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SARA KHATIB: Before we begin, I want to offer a brief summary as to why we are here today. As you know, there is currently a vibrant collection of oral histories in the Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center titled, "Voices of the Forest, Voices of the Mills." That collection consists of stories on people's personal backgrounds and how their journeys have led them to the Andrews Forest. It also consists of stories that illustrate certain political and cultural transitions throughout their time working at the Andrews Forest. Today we are here to build from that by asking more direct questions about your personal philosophy and practice of science and then scale up to the philosophy and practice and science on the community level. The interview will inform the writing of my master's thesis where my research question asks 1) what are the different traditions of science that characterize the Andrews community and 2) what are the philosophies of nature that underlie 00:01:00these traditions. I would like to ask you a few open-ended questions regarding these topics and we expect the duration of the interview to be one to two hours to complete, depending on your interest and knowledge. Would you like to participate in this interview?


SK: Great, so we can end the interview at any point that you wish to do so. Please inform me right away, if you no longer want to participate in the interview and the interview will immediately end. Do I have permission to record the interview?

JF: Not going to happen. [will not ask to end the interview]

SK: Okay. This interview will be deposited with the Oregon State University Library's Special Collections and Archives Research Center for preservation and 00:02:00access. SCARC's commitment to open access include the release of contextualized interview content online. Are you willing for this interview and its derivatives, including a transcript and an interview abstract, to be made available online?

JF: Yes.

SK: Okay, great. Alright, now we can begin with the questions. As I briefly mentioned, the first set of questions touch on your personal perception of nature and your personal philosophy and take on scientific research. My first question that I would like to ask you is how would you define an ecosystem?

JF: How would I define what?

SK: An ecosystem. A forest ecosystem.

JF: That's pretty straightforward. An ecosystem is basically a unit of some type that incorporates all of the biota and their interactions and the environment in 00:03:00which they are operating. It includes all aspects, environmental and biological, of the system.

SK: And how would you characterize the nature of an ecosystem? Is it static? Is it dynamic? Orderly? Chaotic?

JF: Well, I'm going to just focus on how I characterize a forest ecosystem. Basically, when I talk to people about ecosystems, I talk about ecosystems as having three major attributes, particularly forest ecosystems do. One of them is the biological diversity. I used to call it composition, but that's too narrow a 00:04:00consideration. One of the attributes of a forest ecosystem is the biota and the interacting elements among the biota, the relationships among the biota, the food webs, for example. So, it has organisms and interactions among those organisms. Secondly, it has structure and in the case of forests, as with coral reefs, it has a very physical structure. I liken it to architecture and the structure includes different pieces of the ecosystem, different parts of the ecosystem, such as the tree, the snag, the down log. It also, structure also involves the way that those pieces are arranged spatially.

It has to do with whether or not there's uniformity or heterogeneity, and so 00:05:00forth. It has biota, it has structure, and finally it has functions that it performs. All ecosystems are working ecosystems. All forests are working forests in that they are carrying out functions which are important to life on earth and to us as human beings. I categorize the functions really classically. There are three categories. One has to do with production. Capture the sun's energy through the process of photosynthesis and then the distribution and utilization 00:06:00of those energy-rich carbon compounds that are produced by the green plants. Production is very, very broad. It has to do with carbon or energy or biomass and it's all interchangeable. You can use many currency you want. Second category is the interaction, the interrelationship of the forest to the hydrologic flows. I don't really call them cycles because at the level of forest it has to do with flows of material in and through the forest. The forest plays very important roles in interacting with the precipitation with the water that's provided in the system and moves through it. The third major category is the 00:07:00forest ecosystem's role in conserving nutrients and influencing geomorphic processes, such as erosion and deposition of materials. Most ecosystem scientists tend to think of it in terms of nutrients. I think of it as all the material cycles and relationships, except water which I separated out. Then a fourth category is work, or functions, performed by an ecosystem is providing habitat for biological diversity. So, providing the place in which they live and inhabit and feed and are fed upon. An ecosystem then has composition, structure, 00:08:00and function and the functions include the production function, which is carbon or energy, water cycle (material and nutrient cycles), and habitat. That's how I think about an ecosystem. It is a vision that I developed over probably about a 40-year period.

SK: Is there anything about a forest ecosystem that you think makes it particularly-what about a forest ecosystem makes it particularly special or different from all others?

JF: Well, I think you know what makes an ecosystem special?

SK: Forests, specifically, from other ecosystems.

JF: Oh, it's the importance of the work that it does. It's the scale at which it 00:09:00is doing these things. That's what makes it particularly important. One could argue other ecosystems are equally important, too, but it just so happens that my focus is on trees and forests.

SK: Then, with that four parts of the ecosystem that you described, would you say that the forest has order or is it chaotic? Or both?

JF: Oh, the forest definitely has order. It definitely has pattern and you know there are certainly aspects of ecosystems and what happens to them that are random or somewhat chaotic, but fundamentally it's in the nature of them to have 00:10:00higher probabilities of certain outcomes than others. So, no, I consider it to be a well-ordered system, a system about which you can make predictions.

SK: Then, what is your theoretical or philosophical background and how is that applied toward your science?

JF: What is my philosophical background? I never had a course in philosophy. So, I grew up interacting with forests. I was very slow as a child to socialize. There were reasons for that, but the forest became the place where I was 00:11:00comfortable. My relationship with forests has always been a personal one. It had to do with, well, I guess in a sense it had to do with comfort. It was a place where I was comfortable, and I determined very early in my life that I really wanted to work with forests. When I was 14, I made the decision and I made it out loud, just to myself and to the forest, that I wanted to do whatever I could for trees and forests in a world dominated by human beings. That's my mission. There's some philosophical element [in that]. One of them is that probably the 00:12:00best way I could do things initially was to learn more about the forest and to share that with other people. That's what I had an opportunity to do and it became very clear that that was a very good way for me to carry forward my mission.

SK: How about your disciplinary roots? How has your training as an academic influenced the development of your style of science?

JF: Well, I don't really know. I didn't ever expect to be an academician. I had 00:13:00no ambition to be an academician. I was somewhat contemptuous of academics. To a certain extent, I still am. I think you know I had teachers that profoundly influenced me in terms of what to do and how to talk about what I was doing. I think individuals. But I've always fallen between traditional academic groups. For example, I've got two degrees: one in forestry and one in botany, or 00:14:00ecology, if you would. Neither group views me as one of them. You know, whenever you work between traditional disciplines you discover that you have no momma and you have no poppa. You're on your own. What I was able to do ultimately was to gather around myself other people who similarly rather disdained traditional academic approaches and were just interested in looking at the systems and sharing our perspectives with each other. So, a true interdisciplinarian.


SK: So, you navigate between forestry and ecology, but found that each doesn't really accept you due to the back and forth-ness or the interdisciplinary nature of your own work, right?

JF: Right. And I probably was more accepted ultimately by the ecological community than I was by the forestry community.

SK: So, how would you describe your scientific style? Is it experimental? Observational? More?

JF: I'm very much oriented towards observation. I'm a big believer in the value of observing and very early on I really was exposed to and learned to appreciate the value of very long-term observations. My orientation has been observational. 00:16:00It's been with a very long-term perspective, but at the same time I'm capable of doing experiments and adopting an experimental approach when it's useful. But I was never going to be limiting my activities to things that were-I've never been interested in hypothesis-based research in the classic sense. I'm not interested at all in null hypothesis [research]. In ecology, you rarely have an either/or situation. You always have situations where multiple factors are contributing to 00:17:00a particular outcome. I've always thought the null hypothesis [approach] was an ignorant way of going about research.

SK: When you say null hypothesis you mean by having the hypothetical deductive approach when you have a model or theory and you're developing [an] hypothesis from that and trying to isolate variables? Is that correct?

JF: Because I had a Forest Service tradition, I worked for the Forest Service research for 35 years, their research plans were based on questions not on hypotheses. So, I never really did - until I went to the National Science Foundation - I never really dealt much with hypothesis-based research. When we 00:18:00started the research at the Andrews, we didn't have any hypotheses. We just wanted to describe an old growth forest. That's all we wanted to do. We had no hypothesis to begin with, just simply a goal to characterize carbon, water, nutrients in one of our old forests.

SK: When you describe, is it primarily qualitative? How do you go about describing what you find in the forest?

JF: Well, both qualitative and quantitative science. You do both. I've always been quite satisfied with order-of-magnitude kinds of assessments of things. I'm 00:19:00not willing to devote a great deal of time and energy to precise quantification of anything. I'm perfectly willing to accept order-of-magnitude in many cases. There's so much variability out there that if you try to quantify something, you're going to discover that the systems have quite a range [background noise]. That's my dog in the background. I apologize for him. He's playing with his toy.

SK: [Laughs] It's okay.

JF: [Talking to dog] That's not helpful, big dog [laughs].

SK: He wants to contribute.

JF: He knows how to be noisy.


SK: Rather than hypotheses you say you're more focused on research questions. What's your strategy in developing a research question? How do you come to a research question?

JF: Well, I'm not sure that this is really answering your question or not, but our strategy was, you know, we had better begin by describing what this system is and in the process of doing that, we almost immediately began to recognize things that we hadn't recognized before. Actually, out of the first few years of the work at the Andrews we had a lot of really neat hypotheses for people to pursue, because questions began to emerge very quickly from our description. A 00:21:00great example was simply the deadwood. We didn't get very far into describing the forest and the stream systems before we said, "Oh my goodness, this is a lot of deadwood here. I guess we'll have to account for it." Nobody in the world had accounted for it before because it wasn't that important in most of the forests in the world. I mean, it was a very difficult thing to measure, just as tree mortality is a very difficult thing to measure, and so they [scientists elsewhere in the world] did their ecosystem studies without having to come to grips with that and when we did our first global summary in the International Biological Program [1970s], we discovered there was no category for deadwood in the summary tables. We changed the world's-we essentially alerted the world's 00:22:00forest ecologists to, "Oh you're forgetting about something here and it's pretty damn important at times." We've done that with a number of things where other places could sort of ignore some of these things, but we could not. Does that answer your question?

SK: Certainly.

JF: Okay.

SK: Yes. So, by describing certain things, like the importance of deadwood, you were able to open the doors for a lot of other approaches to scientific inquiry, including hypothesis?

JF: Absolutely. What's the dynamic of that wood? What are the inputs of 00:23:00deadwood? How long does it persist and what are the outputs of deadwood and what does deadwood do? Very quickly you discover it's a storehouse of carbon and nutrients. Very quickly you discover its habitat. Very quickly you discover that it interacts with geomorphic processes, like erosion and deposition and so, once you see something, you begin to really ask questions about its dynamics and its role.

SK: I know Richard Waring has a similar background as you, right, in ecology and botany, but you two both sort of branched in terms of your styles of science?

JF: Yeah, Dick has always been interested in the ultimate null hypothesis.


SK: Yeah, very different [laughs].

JF: Yeah. I've always been interested in the significance of different species. At times Dick has taken the position that species don't matter in terms of the things that he's interested in. Of course, as time has gone on, I've become more and more persuaded that species are profoundly important, particularly tree species. Dick and I, we're very different in terms of our orientation, but we were able to work together long enough to get something going.

SK: Yes, certainly.

JF: Dick's departure from the ecosystem research really reflected the fact that he really wanted to pursue null hypotheses, very fundamental, very simple 00:25:00questions. The majority of the Andrews people didn't want to do that. He just, the program wasn't a good fit for him and the people in the program weren't a good fit for him.

SK: Do you mind elaborating about the importance of tree species?

JF: Pardon?

SK: Do you mind elaborating about the importance of tree species?

JF: I mean, good heavenly days. For us, the Douglas fir is absolutely a critical species and it's not one that hemlock can substitute for in terms of the longevity and the size of the material and the persistence of the material. If you want a real contrast, you can look at the hemlock forest on the coast which 00:26:00grow very rapidly and then collapse, essentially, and you can look at the Douglas fir forest, which persist as really intact entities for hundreds of years before they begin to really break down. Then you can look at redwood [forest], which just never quits. It's also a species that sprouts from the stump, which of course none of the conifers do. The species makes a huge difference in terms of the architecture that can be developed and the persistence of that architecture. We're so biased towards Douglas fir that we 00:27:00think all forests behave that way and the don't. But it's led foresters and ecologists in this region to think. "Well, all stands are going to behave like this." No, they aren't. Some are going to develop and evolve to much more complex condition much more rapidly than others are.

SK: Then how do you think that is in conversation with certain models of carbon sequestration models. Would you say knowing the species is fundamental and would influence those?

JF: There are some kinds of modeling that you can do that don't need species, but they're not very useful models in terms of predictive capabilities. If you 00:28:00really want predictive capability, you're going to have to know something about the natural history of the species you're interested in. There was a-I'm trying to remember his name-but there was a really great experimental ecologist down in the southeast and I was in a conference one time that was looking at the role of ecological theory and applications, and we were going around the table saying what our philosophy was and he was about two people in front of me and what he said just stunned everybody, because [he said]: "I don't use theory when people come to me with problems. When people come to me with a real-world problem I rely on my knowledge of the natural history of that system and those organisms." 00:29:00I don't do the other. That was what I was going to say, that there's no [phone rings in the background]-it'll be over with in a second here-anyway, my attitude has always been that, if you really want predictive ability in terms of a real world problem, that you're going to have to basically understand something about the natural history of the system and the organisms that are part of it.

SK: Let's see... then, in terms of natural history would you say that that's still a prominent part of ecology today?


JF: No, it's not.

SK: Yeah.

JF: You know it's not popular at all. There are many reasons for it, but it's just not the fashion these days.

SK: I can relate in my field of anthropology. It used to be very much specific you study a particular culture of people and what you want to study is that culture of people, but a lot of people are arguing or have the sentiment that that's being lost or having universal theories to explain all cultures everywhere. But, it's like what happened to the specifics of this place and these peoples. It's very-there's a lot of difference there, and it's worth studying that difference and what's particular to that group of people. I think that parallels a little bit with natural history and ecology.

JF: Well, it is. It's critical. I'm learning more natural history all the time 00:31:00still at my age and I've learned the role of a vine maple plays and I've learned the role the devil's club plays and they're important roles! But it's easy for someone who doesn't know to dismiss them as not only irrelevant but an annoyance.

SK: An annoyance how so?

JF: Well, if you're walking through a forest and, if it's full of vine maple, you're constantly being tripped up.

SK: I see-like physically annoying.

JF: Slapped in the face, tripped up and it's just like I was taught as a forestry student to think of downed logs as a waste, a fire hazard, and an 00:32:00impediment to travel. How could I not see that something as big as a big downed log has got to have an ecological function in the system? But foresters do-if a tree's dead, it's no longer relevant. It has no value unless we take it. In fact, it's dangerous.

SK: It's clutter. Yeah, but [it has] come a long way with that and thanks to the science from the Andrews Forest.

JF: Oh yeah.

SK: The value of deadwood, right?

JF: You're going to see a lot of it. There's going to be a lot of people that want to salvage the daylights out of the burns.

SK: For my next question-what are your thoughts in regards to objectivity in 00:33:00scientific research?

JF: What do I think about it?

SK: Mm-hmm.

JF: Well, I think you can try to make yourself as objective as you can possibly be. We do things so that we can eliminate some of the more obvious kinds of biases. Instead of picking out where you want to put a plot, you put in a whole series of plots so that you can determine what the variability really is. We do things to make more objective and when we do experiments, we do designs very careful designs to avoid biasing them. Obviously, you know we are influenced by our interests in terms of what we study and so that's certainly played a role in 00:34:00the case of doing the research on old growth. I'd always wanted to and several other people working with me, like Ted Dyrness, also wanted to really learn something about old growth forests. The Forest Service didn't want to do it. They weren't interested. They were just going to cut them down and convert them to plantations. But we ended up having an opportunity to get a hold of a sack of money through the National Science Foundation and that gave us independence so we could do it. And we did.

Anyway, objectivity, yeah, I think you know we strive to be as objective as possible, as clear-minded as we can be, but, clearly, we're not objective about 00:35:00what we choose to study. That is to say we're not making a random selection of what it is we could study. We have interests.

SK: To go back to experiment and talk about the study on old growth and all the knowledge that emerged from that turning point with ecological forestry, would you say that a lot of that, how did you come to produce that knowledge? Was a lot of observational and based on natural history and description?

JF: Well, in many ways it was observational. It was the descriptions that we did of old forests and the mature forest and the young forest. It was the 00:36:00observations of what was happening in the blast zone of Mount St. Helens. It wasn't just my isolated observations. The key was I was working with other people that were observing the same sorts of things, that were observing the similar system but were viewing it from a very different perspective than I was, maybe from the standpoint of the aquatic system, the fish, maybe from the standpoint of landslides, like Fred Swanson was. When you have a team of very observant people who are looking at similar situations and at the Andrews, we're looking at the same forest, we're looking at the same stream... St. Helens... 00:37:00then if they're dialoguing with each other and learning from each other, you know the outcome's going to be profound. I would like to say that I don't think I learned anything on my own. I learned everything I know through observation and conversations with other people. My gift is probably one of being able to integrate many people's work. Of course, I had a bit of a hand as well in influencing what it was they worked on. I was able with sort of my overall vision of what this forest was about was able to say hey we need somebody to go 00:38:00look at this, we need somebody to go work at that and that resulted in ultimately us being able to put together a pretty good first order picture of what a coniferous forest ecosystem really looks like.

When I was young, I was also driven by anger. I was very angry that people were developing supposedly universal theories about forest systems that didn't have anything-that didn't fit my forest at all! I was angry at the eastern ecology regime and, by golly, it was one of the things I was bound and determined that they are going to have to take account of what our forests were like. And they 00:39:00did have to take account of them. But I was driven early on in my career by frustration and agitation over, you know, the failure to appreciate these forests. [Phone rings and voicemail message ensues]. Sorry about the phone intruding.

SK: No worries at all.

JF: Okay what's the next question?

SK: Yeah. Let's see here. As a researcher, how do you use the scientific method 00:40:00to find truth?

JF: I don't know [laughs]. How do I use the scientific method? The scientific method is in ecology is to go out and actually look at what's out there and, you know, the most important aspect I think of the scientific method and looking at forest ecosystems is looking at what's really happening over time under different circumstances. I often would tell students the only truth is what you actually observe out there happening. That's the truth. Model outputs don't-they're not truth. They're useful at times, but they're not truth. You want to know the truth of what's happening you must observe it. Sometimes you 00:41:00can experimentally change it and then observe what happens, but so much of ecology is very long transient responses to things. It's so important, and science, a lot of traditional science doesn't take that perspective at all. In a sense, the scientific method is, of course, to develop a hypothesis and to test it in some way. That's the scientific method. But in the case of ecology, the scientific method is sort of to observe a circumstance, make predictions about what is going to happen and then observe what happens [laughs].


SK: Are there-[JF continues talking].

JF: I don't claim to be much of a scientist.

SK: Okay.

JF: In any kind of the traditional sense.

SK: Mm-hmm. Are there other means to truths, if I may ask?

JF: Other what?

SK: Means to finding truths?

JF: Well, I think I just described some.

SK: Yeah.

JF: One of the ways of finding truth is to observe nature. I think that can be a very important one.

SK: Would you say-is there a dialogue, would you say, between you and the forest?

JF: I'm not sure how to respond to that. In many ways, you know, it's been 00:43:00miraculous in my view that I have been put in so many situations where I learn as a consequence of what I observed in the forest. Is there a dialogue? In a traditional sense, no. But is there a dialogue in the sense of interacting with these ecosystems repeatedly interacting with them and learning from that? Yes, there is that kind of dialogue. You have to do a lot. I've always felt that if you really want to know as much as you can about forest ecosystems you've got to 00:44:00learn at a lot of them. You've got to look at some of them well enough that you really get to know them in a very intimate fashion. I've been fortunate in being able to-I got involved in a project in Tierra del Fuego and it ended up being a tremendous learning experience for me in which I learned about deciduous hardwood forests. I've just repeatedly been put into situations where critical pieces of knowledge make themselves apparent. Mount St. Helens eruption... 00:45:00anyway, is there a dialogue? Well, yes, there is. Is it between sentient creatures? No, I don't necessarily think it is, but then at times I'm very suspicious about it.

SK: My next question-are there laws of nature do you think?

JF: Oh, I think there are some givens, yeah. You know we live, and we die. We're recycled. That's a given, as far as I'm concerned. Then another given is you 00:46:00know the different species have different kinds of life histories. I know trees best and trees have very diverse life histories and some of them are interpreted as adaptations, although you wonder how much of it was just very fundamental to, for example, a genus, let alone a species. Laws of nature-well, yeah there's certainly physical and chemical laws, but there's almost no boundary conditions 00:47:00to the diversity of life and it's just a whole lot of different ways you can put an ecosystem together. There's an incredible richness in ecology that you don't really see in chemistry and physics because they have laws in the sense of things that actions and reactions, responses to conditions. I haven't thought much about it.

SK: This is my last question for this section and then we can maybe take a break and move on to the second section. What are your overall motivations? Is it for curiosity? For finding real world solutions?


JF: My motivation, yeah, most fundamentally, my parents gave me my motivation which was to try to leave the world in a better place than it was when I came. I made a decision as a youngster, as a teenager, that I was going to focus what I did on the forest in trying to help them. I concluded that the best way-I didn't conclude, but I evolved the best way that I could possibly do that is to increase our knowledge of the ecosystems and to share that knowledge as widely as I possibly could. My motivation then was really to, well, I describe it at 00:49:00times as to cut the best deal I could for forest and trees in a world dominated by human beings. That was my motivation and I tried to very much follow that in the decisions I made about my career. I would periodically go and sit in the forest and report why I was doing and examine what my motivation was in what I was choosing to do at that time. Some decisions I made were very clearly based on pursuing that mission rather than seeking the greatest ego satisfaction that I could.

You know, I would have been very easy and rewarding in some ways to go up in the 00:50:00hierarchy of the Forest Service, but that wouldn't be the best way of serving the mission that I'd set for myself. My motivations are pretty clear. Of course, obviously as a human being I wanted to feel good about what I did. I wanted to enjoy what I did. I certainly wanted to be out in the forest because that's what I really loved. I was also serving my own interest at the same time. It was a very wonderful and it turned out to be a very rewarding way to go. But I didn't know it was going to be that way at the beginning and I was willing to settle for whatever came along.


SK: Thank you. Do you want to take just a 5-minute break here?

JF: I don't need to.

SK: Okay, I might just go, just to use the restroom.

JF: Do you need to?

SK: Mm-hmm.

JF: Okay.

SK: In this next section I inquire about different traditions in approaches of science on a community level and what role these different approaches contribute to the Andrews science community as a whole. So, during your time with the Andrews Forest, what role did natural history play, or still play, in the community?

JF: It plays a very major role. I think we've already talked about that some, because I think that the natural history information is the critical information 00:52:00when you are actually dealing with a real-world situation and what we can do in science is make clear the range of possibilities that can exist, just depending upon the particular attributes of the species that are involved. But I think that it's really important.

SK: I know you expressed earlier your importance or value for natural history. Do you think that sentiment echoes to the community as a whole?

JF: I don't know if it does or not.

SK: Okay.

JF: The problem with it is that the amount of information that's needed given the diversity that's present in an ecosystem, any ecosystem, including the 00:53:00forest ecosystem, is that it's immense in terms of potential investments. The science traditionally, you know, is looking for patterns so that it doesn't have to deal with that kind of species-specific or situation-specific information. Yet, I don't-ultimately you have to have people who have sufficient knowledge in these specific situations, if you're going to come up with optimal kinds of solutions to the problems. There may be ways in which you know we could engage 00:54:00more people in society in actually developing that kind of natural history information. I think about, you know, there's a lot of people that don't have a lot to do right now and one of the ways that would be very productive for them and for society would be to engage them in some of this kind of work.

SK: What about observational approaches at the Andrews Forest? I know there's people who characterize the Andrews as primarily bottom-top kind of research. Would you agree with that?

JF: Yeah. I think one of the really critical things that relates to observation 00:55:00is that we need to be investing much more heavily in observing the consequences of activities, monitoring if you would. That's a case where systematic observation over very long time periods is really critical to assessing both the state of our knowledge, how accurate our predictions have been about what's happening, but also one of the things that we do with that is also identify where we've made mistakes or where in fact there are events of some kind that dramatically alter responses. I guess my point again, to go back to the 00:56:00beginning, is simply I think much more systematic long-term observation is needed in a variety of settings in order to really to test the rigor of our knowledge.

SK: What about hypothesis-driven or experimental research? I know that you said with NSF that was sort of the first time that you got really involved. Does hypothesis-driven characterize much of the work that's done at Andrews Forest or is it primarily observational?

JF: Well, I think there's a real place for experimentation and you know I was 00:57:00really responsible in one way or another for a very large experiment called "DEMO" [Demonstration of Ecosystem Management Optoins]. Experiments that are done carefully can really be very helpful and they're not necessarily hypothesis-based, simply exploring, for example, what are the consequences of leaving-in the case of that experiment-15% retention or 40% retention [of live tree canopy]? What's the consequences of leaving it in the form of dispersed trees versus aggregated trees? Experiments that are well-designed can be very 00:58:00useful. In a sense our testing hypotheses, but I don't really think of them that way so much as trying to begin to define ranges of responses. There's a continuum of possible treatments. What kind of responses do we see if we leave fewer trees or if we leave more trees? Is it a smooth continuum or are there some jumps along the way where we encounter some kind of an effect that moves it to a different state, so to speak? Anyway, I also have to admit that in many 00:59:00ways I use-what I think many times what I lay out for people could be structured in a hypothesis, as a hypothesis. I often have created a number of theoretical constructs. You can always turn those into hypotheses, if you wish to do so. I just haven't chosen to think of them that way. I also haven't chosen to think of many of the constructs as theory in a classical sense, but that's very broadly speaking what they are. I mean, the forest development model that I developed is 01:00:00very clearly a theoretical construct.

SK: What about ecosystem modeling, or modeling in general? What place does that serve in the Andrews Forest?

JF: I think it can be very useful, as long as you don't [audio unintelligible]. Models can be a way of seeing where you are in terms of your knowledge of the system. I think models are simply a way of building a vision of a system or the 01:01:00structure of a system or how a system is working. I think it can be very useful. I think when it becomes dangerous is when people begin to think that model outputs represent something that's real. That worries me a lot. It's kind of like interpreting remote imagery without having any ground truth. That worries me a lot.

SK: That's an interesting way to put it. So, the concern is that models they're meant to be tools for thinking but some people confuse them with reality?

JF: Well, they really are. One of the classic ones was one of the very early forest succession models. It was built at Hubbard Brook [Experimental Forest in NH] and what they did was they didn't know how to model mortality. They can 01:02:00model birth and they can model growth, but they didn't have good information on mortality, so what Dan Botkin decided to do was we'll do it this way: the bigger a tree gets and the older it gets as it approaches its maximum age and maximum size (maximum age actually was the primary one), that it's probability of dying will be increased. The older you are the more likely you are to die. Well, it turns out that it varies like mad with tree species and they don't, almost none of them, behave that way. The bigger and older the Douglas fir tree is the more 01:03:00likely it is to survive the next year, or the next measurement increment. Every species has its own unique pattern of mortality and, again, with the Douglas fir and the redcedar, the bigger and older you are the more likely you are to survive the next increment. With redwood, the bigger and older you are the more likely you are to never die [laughs]. That was a prize example of a model that guy was trying to put together for forest dynamics that was premised totally inappropriately, inaccurately, was absolutely not the case for some of the species.

SK: Just to clarify, would you say then that models brush over a lot of 01:04:00difference and that difference is really important to be aware of?

JF: They certainly do. Absolutely.

SK: Are there other approaches to ecological research that we haven't discussed aside from natural history and experimental and hypothesis and modeling?

JF: I'm not sure. I think that really covers it. I don't know what else you could do. Can you think of some?


SK: Actually, another question I have, which may or may not pertain to that question, is with the Andrews Forest in the early 2000s they started the LTE Reflections Program [Long-Term Ecological Reflections] to bring in artists and humanists and philosophers. I'm not sure-around what time did you leave the Andrews Forest to go to the University of Washington? I can't quite remember the year.

JF: What about?

SK: Sorry, to leave Andrews Forest to go to the University of Washington-where you around for the LTE Reflections Program when that started?

JF: That's another way of thinking about them. It's another way of perceiving them, but not scientifically investigating them. There are infinite ways of interpreting or experiencing forest systems, absolutely. Some of them are really 01:06:00tremendously enjoyable. I mean, lying in a sleeping bag at the campground at the Andrews Experimental Forest looking at the stars and listening to Lookout Creek, that's a wonderful experience, but it's not a scientific investigation. It has to do with how we as human beings are perceiving those systems and are being either negatively or positively impacted in terms of our aesthetics, our feelings.


SK: What year did you leave the Andrews Forest to go to the University of Washington?

JF: Basically, that was 1986. What had happened was in 1985 I took a sabbatical and went to Harvard Forest and while I was at Harvard Forest, I was offered a position at the University of Washington and I took that position, obviously. We actually tried to persuade the Forestry School at Oregon State to hire me so I could stay in Corvallis and continue to work with the team of people that I'd worked with, but the dean was very anxious to get me out of town. He wanted me gone. The dean at that time really viewed the research on old growth as being 01:08:00not only without value, but actually being aversive. That was my fault, so he wanted me out of town. But '86 I took the position at the University of Washington.

SK: I just have a couple of concluding questions for you. What significant ideas have emerged from the Andrews science community and how did these ideas evolve in terms of questions and methods over time? I know you touched on this a little bit but maybe sort of just to sum up.

JF: I think the consequence of the Andrews research has been really sound. I can 01:09:00cite individual epiphanies, like the recognition that deadwood is really important in an ecosystem, but, interestingly, the Andrews was the first place where we really for the first time defined what a forest ecosystem is, essentially created a comprehensive vision of what a forest ecosystem is composed of and what it does. People have worked at pieces of it.

The people at Hubbard Brook and the people at Coweeta [Hydrologic Laboratory in NC] had worked at it, but it turned out that the work at the Andrews, although 01:10:00it began really looking at an old growth forest, which we thought was going to become essentially extinct as an ecosystem, we thought we were just documenting a disappearing system, in fact ended up providing the framework for what a forest ecosystem consists of and how you think about it. Although we started with an old forest, we then asked questions about well, where does a forest come from? How does it develop over time? So, we ended up looking at disturbances to forests and how forests respond to those disturbances and how the ecosystem then 01:11:00begins a new developmental cycle and we learned something about the young forest and then we looked at the mature forest, which can be viewed as nothing more than a conversion where you go from a very simple, top-loaded, young forest to a very complex, spatially heterogeneous, bottom-loaded old forest. Focus on the old growth became a focus on what a forest ecosystem is and how it develops and sustains itself. I think you know it changed the whole perception that foresters 01:12:00and forest-interested people had of what a forest was. You go back 60 years to when I was in forestry school, you say what is a forest? Or a forest is a collection of trees and you manage it to produce wood. That's what we thought a forest was. Perhaps somebody might have said, "Well, it's got to be something more than that. Well, I've got no information on what that might be." What we have now is we've created, in fact, this basic understanding of what a forest system is about, not every detail. We're not omniscient. But we understand, "Ah! 01:13:00I understand what the structure of the forest is, and I understand what functions of a forest are. I understand how it develops over time. I understand how it responds to disturbances." That kind of understanding has become global.

The Andrews and the Andrews team get a tremendous amount of credit for that. They've changed our whole vision of what a forest is. It's like Leopold said, once you know something, you begin to care about it. That's what's happened. Oh, it isn't just about wood production. It's about all of these other functional 01:14:00things that these forests do. We have to be sure that in our pursuit of economic gain, we don't lose all of those other capacities. We've got to learn how to sustain all of those capacities. That doesn't mean you don't cut them. It just means you learn how to do that in a way that doesn't essentially cripple the system. I think that's a very large and profound contribution that the team of people working on the Andrews has made. That was an extraordinary group of people. It really was. It was magical.

SK: It was. That's while you still got people like me coming to study what's 01:15:00going on. As my final question, what do you see are the principles and motivating forces that drive the Andrews as a community?

JF: Well, I think probably what drove us more than anything was to understand as much as we could about these systems and to share that very widely so that no matter what else people had to think about it and take account of it. I've often thought, you know, that more than anything we wanted to understand it, but we also wanted people to have an appreciation for its complexity, its richness, and 01:16:00we wanted them to be respectful of that. I think we all shared that. I think that's why it was a magical group because we shared that. We never talked about it, but we shared it. It really made us very open to each other, made us committed to this common outcome. We had, I guess you would call it a training session at one point when I was running the program. We brought a facilitator in and brought all of the team together in order to develop more of a personal 01:17:00interaction among the group. One of the things that the fella said at the end was you are the spokesman for this ecosystem. That's your job. You have developed that understanding and your mission now is to share that, to speak for the system. I like to tell resource managers that they have two jobs: one of them is to inform the public as best they can about the potentials and limitations of the ecosystems that they're responsible for managing so that hopefully people make intelligent decisions, but, also, their job is to represent the ecosystem to the humans. They have that job of understanding it so 01:18:00that they can speak for, they can represent it. That's what we were doing.

SK: Thank you. Are there any other final comments that you'd like to add before we end the interview?

JF: I hadn't thought about that for a long time, but that's clearly what we did.

SK: Great, well, thank you.