My primary research focuses on the ecological mechanisms that structure forest communities and determine the fine- and large-scale spatial and temporal dynamics of forests.
This program spans topics as diverse as forest demography, functional traits, canopy structure and change over succession, spatial patterns and shifts of temperate and tropical forest tree species, and how climate change influences carbon stocks and fluxes in these systems. This work combines field research, advanced statistical analyses and computer simulations, and enjoys the collaboration of a global network of scientists in forest ecology, statistics, computer science and climate science.

The Smithsonian Institution Global Earth Observatory (SIGEO) network of forest plots has long offered forest scientists an important way to test whether local observed patterns reflect global processes. The new, temperate forest plots extend this program to critical biomes that show high biomass, high growth and many of the spatial and temporal patterns observed in tropical forests, all with far fewer species. SERC has a keystone SIGEO plot that demonstrates the value of temperate forest plot research for global understandings of terrestrial biomes.


Dr. Sean McMahon
Senior Scientist

Smithsonian Environmental Research Center

PO Box 28
Edgewater, Maryland 21037
Phone: 443-482-2262
Fax: 443-482-2380
Curriculum Vitae