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Academic & Research Interest

I am an environmental scientist with a specialty in dendroecology, which is the study of tree growth and wood formation, and of how they can be used to infer present and past ecological changes. My experience and interests are in climate and forest dynamics, particularly in mountain watersheds. This places my work at the intersection between ecology, climatology, biogeography, and hydrology.

I have studied tree-dominated landscapes in the North American West, Mexico, and southern Europe. My long-term goal is to understand drivers of tree and forest growth in current, past, and future environments. I pursue this goal using instrumental and proxy records (mostly from tree rings), with an emphasis on field observations, numerical calibration, and automated sensors to bridge temporal and spatial scales.

My dissertation work  on forest growth trends in Arizona had both regional and global relevance. Regionally, it provided evidence for the impact of fire suppression on the ecology of southwestern conifer forests, ultimately contributing to landscape conservation plans. Globally, it showed the importance of placing twentieth-century patterns into a longer historical perspective to disentangle the impact of land use changes (in this case, European settlement) from stand dynamics and other factors. From 1994 to 2000 I conducted research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography on past climate using proxy records from terrestrial tree rings and oceanic sediments (varves). At Scripps I also established a research program in dendroclimatology, and assembled the tree-ring laboratory that I then transferred to UNR. My recent studies deal with quantifying climate and tree growth variability from mountain ecosystems in the Great Basin of North America. Special emphasis is placed on understanding responses to disturbance (wildfire, land use changes) in relation to climate dynamics and to the distribution of woody species at the watershed level.

From 2008 to 2013 I was the statewide lead for the Ecological Change component of an NSF-EPSCoR project entitled “Nevada Infrastructure for Climate Change Science, Education and Outreach”, which was funded for a total of $15 million. As part of the research infrastructure funded by this large multi-investigator project, we established the Nevada Climate-ecohydrological Assessment Network (NevCAN), which includes valley-to-peak instrumental transects designed to measure changes in atmospheric, hydrologic, and ecologic variables, including the spatial and temporal processes that control, and are recorded by, wood growth of lower and upper treeline species.

I am now involved in multiple research projects aimed at understanding the environmental drivers of intra-annual tree-ring features. Extramurally-funded studies performed by DendroLab personnel are focused on examining the connection between wood form and function in conifer species of the western US. We use automated point dendrometers, wood anatomy, and cellular phenology to uncover the exquisitely intricate connections between dendrochronology, wood science, tree physiology, forest ecology, mensuration, and allometry. These new activities also include domestic and international collaborations, the latter with scientists in Canada, Germany, France, Finland, Switzerland, and Italy. 

Laurea, University of Florence, Italy, 1985
M.S., University of Arizona, Tucson, 1987
Ph.D., University of Arizona, Tucson, 1994

Areas of Study


Past Students:

Megan Bradley (MS)
Peter Hartsough (PhD)
Kurt Solander (MS)

Representative Publications

Schwalm, C.R., W.R.L. Anderegg, A.M. Michalak, J.B. Fisher, F. Biondi, G. Koch, M. Litvak, K. Ogle, J.D. Shaw, A. Wolf, D.N. Huntzinger, K. Schaefer, R. Cook, Y. Wei, Y. Fang, D. Hayes, M. Huang, A. Jain, and H. Tian 2017, Global patterns of drought recovery, Nature 548, 202–205 (10 August 2017) doi:10.1038/nature23021   http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v548/n7666/full/nature23021.html?foxtrotcallback=true
Di Filippo, A., F. Biondi, G. Piovesan, and E. Ziaco 2017, Tree-ring based metrics for assessing old-growth forest naturalness, Journal of Applied Ecology 54 (3): 737–749. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12793   http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1365-2664.12793/abstract
Ziaco, E., F. Biondi, S. Rossi, and A. Deslauriers 2016, Environmental drivers of cambial phenology in Great Basin bristlecone pine, Tree Physiology 36: 818–831. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpw006   https://academic.oup.com/treephys/article/36/7/818/2463908
Ziaco, E. and F. Biondi. 2016, Tree growth, cambial phenology, and wood anatomy of limber pine at a Great Basin (USA) mountain observatory, Trees - Structure and Function 30: 1507–1521. doi: 10.1007/s00468-016-1384-7   https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00468-016-1384-7?wt_mc=alerts.TOCjournals
Ziaco, E., F. Biondi, and I. Heinrich 2016, Wood cellular dendroclimatology: Testing new proxies in Great Basin bristlecone pine, Frontiers in Plant Science - Functional Plant Ecology 7: 1602 (13 pp.), doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.01602   https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2016.01602/full
Salas, J.D., Z. Tarawneh, and F. Biondi 2015, A hydrological record extension model for reconstructing streamflows from tree-ring chronologies, Hydrological Processes 29(4): 544–556. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.10160   http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hyp.10160/abstract
Saito, L., F. Biondi, R. Devkota, J. Vittori, and J. Salas 2015, A water-balance approach for reconstructing streamflow using tree-ring proxy records, Journal of Hydrology 529(Part 2): 535–547. doi: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2014.11.022   http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022169414009275
Anderegg,W.R.L., C. Schwalm, F. Biondi, J.J. Camarero, G. Koch, M. Litvak, K. Ogle, J.D. Shaw, E. Shevliakova, A.P. Williams, A. Wolf, E. Ziaco, and S. Pacala 2015, Pervasive drought legacies in forest ecosystems and their implications for carbon cycle models, Science 349 (6247), 528-532. DOI: 10.1126/science.aab1833   http://science.sciencemag.org/content/349/6247/528
Biondi, F. and S. Rossi 2015, Plant-water relationships in the Great Basin Desert of North America derived from Pinus monophylla hourly dendrometer records, International Journal of Biometeorology 59(8): 939-953. doi: 10.1007/s00484-014-0907-4   https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00484-014-0907-4
Zang, C., and F. Biondi 2015, treeclim: an R package for the numerical calibration of proxy-climate relationships, Ecography 38: 431–436. DOI: 10.1111/ecog.01335   http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ecog.01335/abstract
Book or Chapter(s) in Books
Biondi, F. 2015, Dendrochronology, Volcanic Eruptions, W.J. Rink and J.W. Thompson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Scientific Dating Methods, Springer-Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg. pp. 221-227. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-6326-5_24-1  
Photo of Franco Biondi

Contact Info

1664 N. Virginia Street
Reno,  Nevada   89557
Office: (775) 784-6921
Lab: 327-2346