Staff Profile
Sean McMahon


My lab is focused on understanding how tree demography--the growth, survival, and recruitment of individual stems--is driven by physiological and environmental processes.  We also study how demographic dynamics drive large-scale patterns of forest structure, function, and diversity.  Much of our work evolves from using extant data from both the Smithsonian's ForestGEO network, FIA, remote sensing data sets, and extensive research of Geoffrey Parker, a colleague and forest ecologist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, where we are based.  We also explore these questions by collecting new data whenever possible.  If a research focus is on forest dynamics, there is no limit to the kinds of projects we want to weave into our team.  

I am the Temperate Program Coordinator for the Smithsonian Institution's CTFS-ForestGEO network.   There are currently 17 temperate plots in the program in North America and Europe, with a number of other partner plots in China.  My responsibilities for the network involve facilitating synthetic science, assisting network partners in research, data-collection, and data vetting, storage and curation.  I also work to expand the network into new biomes, with unique flora, distrubance histories, and new partner institutions to promote fundamental research to build a global understanding of forest dynamics.   



  • Anderson-Teixeira, Kristina J., McGarvey, Jennifer C., Muller-Landau, Helene C., Park, Janice Y., Gonzalez-Akre, Erika, Herrmann, Valentine, Bennett, Amy C., So, Christopher V., Bourg, Norman A., Thompson, Jonathan R., McMahon, Sean M. and McShea, William J. (2015). Size-related scaling of tree form and function in a mixed-age forest. Functional Ecology, 29 (12) , 1587-1602.
  • McMahon, Sean M. and Parker, Geoffrey G. (2015). A general model of intra-annual tree growth using dendrometer bands. Ecology and Evolution, 5 (2) , 243-254.
  • McMahon, Sean M., Bebber, Daniel P., Butt, Nathalie, Crockatt, Martha, Kirby, Keith, Parker, Geoffrey G., Riutta, Terhi and Slade, Eleanor M. (2015). Ground based LiDAR demonstrates the legacy of management history to canopy structure and composition across a fragmented temperate woodland. Forest Ecology and Management, 335 , 255-260.
  • Metcalf, C. Jessica E., Ellner, Stephen P., Childs, Dylan Z., Salguero-Gómez, Roberto, Merow, Cory, McMahon, Sean M., Jongejans, Eelke and Rees, Mark. (2015). Statistical modelling of annual variation for inference on stochastic population dynamics using Integral Projection Models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 6 (9) , 1007-1017.
  • Sexton, Joseph O., Noojipady, Praveen, Anand, Anupam, Song, Xiao-Peng, McMahon, Sean M., Huang, Chengquan, Feng, Min, Channan, Saurabh and Townshend, John R. (2015). A model for the propagation of uncertainty from continuous estimates of tree cover to categorical forest cover and change. Remote Sensing of Environment, 156 , 418-425.
  • Visser, Marco D., McMahon, Sean M., Merow, Cory, Dixon, Philip M., Record, Sydne and Jongejans, Eelke. (2015). Speeding Up Ecological and Evolutionary Computations in R; Essentials of High Performance Computing for Biologists . PLoS computational biology, 11 (3) , 1-11.
  • Kral, Kamil, McMahon, Sean M., Janik, David, Adam, Dusan and Vrska, Tomas. (2014). Patch mosaic of developmental stages in central European natural forests along vegetation gradient. Forest Ecology and Management, 330 , 17-28.
  • Merow, Cory, Dahlgren, Johan P., Metcalf, C. J., Childs, Dylan Z., Evans, Margaret E. K., Jongejans, Eelke, Record, Sydne, Rees, Mark, Salguero-Gómez, Roberto and McMahon, Sean M. (2014). Advancing population ecology with integral projection models: a practical guide. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 5 (2) , 99-110.
  • Merow, Cory, Latimer, Andrew M., Wilson, Adam M., McMahon, Sean M., Rebelo, Anthony G. and Silander, John A., Jr. (2014). On using integral projection models to generate demographically driven predictions of species' distributions: development and validation using sparse data. Ecography, 37 (12) , 1167-1183.
  • Merow, Cory, Smith, Mathew J., Edwards, Thomas C., Guisan, Antoine, McMahon, Sean M., Normand, Signe, Thuiller, Wilfried, Wüest, Rafael O., Zimmermann, Niklaus E. and Elith, Jane. (2014). What do we gain from simplicity versus complexity in species distribution models?. Ecography, 37 (12) , 1267-1281.
  • Réjou-Méchain, M., Muller-Landau, Helene C., Detto, Matteo, Thomas, S. C., Le Toan, T., Saatchi, S. S., Barreto-Silva, J., Bourg, N. A., Bunyavejchewin, S., Butt, N., Brockelman, W. Y., Cao, M., Cárdenas, D., Chiang, J. M., Chuyong, G. B., Clay, Keith, Condit, Richard S., Dattaraja, H. S., Davies, Stuart James, Duque, A., Esufali, S., Ewango, C., Fernando, R. H. S., Fletcher, C. D., Gunatilleke, I. A. U. N., et al. (2014). Local spatial structure of forest biomass and its consequences for remote sensing of carbon stocks. Biogeosciences Discussions, 11 (4) , 5711-5742.
  • Chisholm, Ryan A., Muller-Landau, Helene C., Abdul Rahman, Kassim, Bebber, Daniel P., Bin, Yue, Bohlman, Stephanie A., Bourg, Norman A., Brinks, Joshua, Bunyavejchewin, Sarayudh, Butt, Nathalie, Cao, Honglin, Cao, Min, Cárdenas, Dairon, Chang, Li-Wan, Chiang, Jyh-Min, Chuyong, George, Condit, Richard S., Dattaraja, Handanakere S., Davies, Stuart, Duque, Alvaro, Fletcher, Christine, Gunatilleke, Nimal, Gunatilleke, Savitri, Hao, Zhanqing, Harrison, Rhett D., et al. (2013). Scale-dependent relationships between tree species richness and ecosystem function in forests . Journal of Ecology, 101 (5) , 1214-1224.
  • Metcalf, C. Jessica E., McMahon, Sean M., Salguero-Gómez, Roberto and Jongejans, Eelke. (2013). IPMpack: an R package for integral projection models. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 4 (2) , 195-200.
  • Stark, Scott C., Leitold, Veronika, Wu, Jin L., Hunter, Maria O., de Castilho, Carolina V., Costa, Flávia R. C., McMahon, Sean M., Parker, Geoffrey G., Shimabukuro, Mô, Lefsky, Michael A., Keller, Michael, Alves, Luciana F., Schietti, Juliana, Shimabukuro, Yosio Edemir, Brandão, Diego O., Woodcock, Tara K., Higuchi, Niro, de Camargo, Plinio B., de Oliveira, Raimundo C. and Saleska, Scott R. (2012). Amazon forest carbon dynamics predicted by profiles of canopy leaf area and light environment. Ecology Letters, 15 (12) , 1406-1414.
  • McMahon, Sean M., Harrison, Sandy P., Armbruster, W. Scott, Bartlein, Patrick J., Beale, Colin M., Edwards, Mary E., Kattge, Jens, Midgley, Guy, Morin, Xavier and Prentice, I. Colin. (2011). Improving assessment and modelling of climate change impacts on global terrestrial biodiversity. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 26 (5) , 249-259.