Dr. Chris Zou

EPSCoR Research Focus: 
Observatory Network * Forecasting System
Assistant Professor and Ecohydrologist
Department of Natural Resource Ecology Management
Oklahoma State University
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B.S. | Biology | Southwest University, Chongqing | 1985
M.S. | Plant Ecology | Southwest University, Chongqing | 1988
Ph.D. | Forestry | University of Canterbury, Christchurch | 2000
Research Interests: 

Oklahoma NSF EPSCoR Researchers:
Socio-Ecological Systems' Adaptation to Climate Variability

Dr. Chris Zou's Ecoydrology and Ecosystem Science lab at Oklahoma State University focuses on spearheading research and applications at the nexus of climate change, ecology and water resources. The research team's work addresses key water resources and land management issues in the south-central Great Plains, while simultaneously addressing and synthesizing across several key ecohydrological issues of broad concern. The research approaches are primarily field-based but are complemented by controlled experiments and process-based modeling.

The team's work on the Oklahoma EPSCoR RII award addresses two significant research objectives, including:

  1. Establishment of a first-of-its-kind, statewide, socio-ecological observatory;
  2. Development of a fully integrated socio-ecological modeling and prediction system that is designed to integrate qualitative and quantitative approaches and to systematically examine insights from both disciplinary and integrated perspectives.

Pictured (above/right): Dr. Chris Zou and research team members at a monitoring site in Oklahoma

Teaching Responsibilities: 
NREM 4473: Global Issues of Water and Ecosystem Management
NREM 5483: Ecohydrology
NREM 5020: Graduate Seminar
Research Assistants Funded by EPSCoR: 

Gehendra Kharel (Post-Doctoral Fellow)
Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University
Research Focus:  Developing integrated modeling efforts of coupled nature-human systems under a changing climate, focusing primarily in Cimarron River Watershed.
Email:  gehendra.kharel@okstate.edu


Lei Qiao (Post-Doctoral Fellow)
Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University
Research Focus:  Conducting climate change impact studies and eco-hydrological modeling.
Email:  lei.qiao@okstate.edu


Renato Rahal (Graduate Student)
Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University
Research Focus:  Studying streamflow responses to climate variability and land management across a precipitation gradient in Oklahoma.
Email:  renatom@okstate.edu


Bharat Sharma Acharya (Graduate Student)
Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University
Email:  bharas@ostatemail.okstate.edu


Elaine Stebler (Staff)
Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University
Research Focus:  Maintaining and retrofitting existing weirs across the state-wide microcatchment network; collecting and analyzing meteorological and discharge data.
Email:  elaine.stebler@okstate.edu

Key Publications: 
  • Will RE, Wilson SM*, Zou CB, Hennessey TC. 2013. Increased vapor pressure deficit due to higher temperature leads to greater transpiration and faster mortality during drought for tree seedlings common to the forest-grassland ecotone. New Phytologist. doi: 10.1111/nph.12321 PDF
  • Breshears DD, Adams HD, Eamus D, McDowell N, Law DJ, Will RE, Williams AP and Zou CB. 2013. The critical amplifying role of increasing atmospheric moisture demand on tree mortality and associated regional die-off. Frontiers in Plant Science 4:266. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00266 PDF
  • Twidwell D, Wonkka CL, Taylor CA, Zou CB, Twidwell JJ, Rogers WE. 2013. Drought-induced woody plant mortality in an encroached semiarid savanna depends on topoedaphic factors and land management. Applied Vegetation Science. DOI: 10.1111\avsc.12044 PDF
  • Adams HD, Germino MJ, Breshears DD, Barron- Gafford GA, Guardiola-Claramonte M, Zou CB, Huxman TE. 2013. Non-structural leaf carbohydrate dynamics of Pinus edulis during drought-induced tree mortality reveal role for carbon metabolism in mortality mechanism. New Phytologist 197:1142-51. doi: 10.1111/nph.12102. PDF
  • Chen SJ, Chen C, Zou CB, Stebler E, Zhang SX, Hou L, Wang D. 2011. Application of Gash analytical model and parameterized Fan model to estimate canopy interception of a Chinese red pine forest. Journal of Forest Research. DOI 10.1007/s10310-012-0364-z. PDF
  • Wine M, Zou CB, Bradford JA, Gunter SA. Hydrologic responses to land use changes in the highly erodible Southern Great Plains using long-term paired watershed analysis. Journal of Hydrology. 450-451:336–341.PDF
  • Royer PD, Breshears DD, Zou CB, Villegas JC, Cobb NS, Kurc SA. 2012. Density-dependent ecohydrological effects of Pin˜on–Juniper woody canopy cover on soil microclimate and potential soil evaporation. Rangeland Ecology and Management 65:11-20. DOI: 10.2111/rem-d-11-00007.1 PDF
  • Field JP, Breshears DD, Whicker JJ, Zou CB. 2012. Sediment capture by vegetation patches: Implications for desertification and increased resource redistribution. Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences. DOI: G0103310.1029/2011jg001663 PDF
  • Miao SL, Zou CB. 2012. Effects of inundation on the growth and nutrient allocation of six major macrophytes in the Florida Everglades. Ecological Engineering 42: 10-18. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2012.01.009 PDF
  • Wine ML, Zou CB. 2012. Long-term streamflow relations with riparian gallery forest expansion into tallgrass prairie in the Southern Great Plains, USA. Forest Ecology and Management266: 170 – 179. DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2011.11.014 PDF
  • Chen SJ, Chen C, Zou CB, Zhang SX, Wang D, Hou L. 2011. Canopy effect on rainfall redistribution and timing of throughfall and stemflow occurrence in a Pinus tabulaeformis forest in the Qinling Mountains, China. Acta Ecologica Sinica. 32:1142-1150. PDF
  • Miller GR, Cable JM, McDonald AK, Bond B, Tyler AP, Franz TE, Wang LX,  Zou CB. 2011. Understanding ecohydrological connectivity in savannas: a system dynamics modelling approach. Ecohydrology 5:200-220. DOI: 10.1002/eco.245 PDF
  • Wang LX, Zou CB, O’Donnell F, Goods, Franz T, Milller GR, Caylor KK, Cable JM, Bond B. Characterizing ecohydrological and biogeochemical connectivity across multiple scales: a new conceptual framework. Ecohydrology 5:221-233. DOI: 10.1002/eco.187  PDF
  • Field JP, Breshears DD,Whicker JJ, Zou CB. 2011.  Interactive effects of grazing and burning on wind- and water-driven sediment fluxes: rangeland management implications. Ecological Applications 21:22-32. DOI: 10.1890/09-2369.1  PDF
  • Field JP, Breshears DD, Whicker JJ, Zou CB. 2011. On the ratio of wind- to water-driven sediment transport: Conserving soil under global-change-type extreme events. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 66:51A – 56A.  DOI: 10.2489/jswc.66.2.51A PDF
  • Villegas JC, Breshears DD, Zou CB, Royer PD. 2010. Seasonally-pulsed heterogeneity in microclimate: phenology and cover effects along deciduous grassland-forest continuum. Vadose Zone Journal 9:537–547. doi:10.2136/vzj2009.0032  PDF
  • Zou CB, Royer PD, Breshears DD. 2010. Density-dependent shading patterns by Sonoran saguaros. Journal of Arid Environments 74:156-158. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.07.001 PDF
  • Villegas JC, Breshears DD, Zou CB, Law DJ. 2010. Ecohydrological controls of soil evaporation in deciduous drylands: How the hierarchical effects of litter, patch and vegetation mosaic cover interact with phenology and season. Journal of Arid Environment 74:595-602. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2009.09.028 PDF
  • Royer PD, Breshears DD, Zou CB, Cobb NS, Kurc SA. 2010. Ecohydrological energy inputs in semiarid coniferous gradients:  Responses to management- and drought-induced tree reductions. Forest Ecology and Management 260:1646-1655.  DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2010.07.036 PDF
  • Zou CB, Ffolliott PF, Wine M*. 2010. Streamflow responses to vegetation manipulations along a gradient of precipitation in the Colorado River Basin. Forest Ecology and Management 259:1268 – 1276. DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2009.08.005 PDF
  • Breshears DD, Whicker JJ, Zou CB, Field JP, Allen CD. 2009. Aeolian sediment transport in undisturbed and disturbed dryland ecosystems along the grassland-forest continuum: A conceptual framework spanning gradients of woody plants. Geomorphology 105:28-38.  DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2007.12.018 PDF13.
  • Wang J, Zou CB, Ren H, Duan W. 2009. Absence of tree seeds impedes shrubland succession in southern China. Journal of Tropical Forest Science 21:210-217. PDF
  • Miao SL, Zou CB. 2009. Seasonal variation in seed bank composition and the interaction with nutrient enrichment in the Everglades wetlands. Aquatic Botany 90:157-164. DOI: 10.1016/j.aquabot.2008.08.006 PDF
  • Adams HD, Guardiola-Claramonte M, Barron-Gafford GA, Villegas JC, Breshears DD, Zou CB, Troch PA, and Huxman TE. 2009. Reply to Leuzinger et al.: Drought-induced tree mortality temperature sensitivity requires pressing forward with best available science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. 106: E107. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0909227106 PDF
  • Adams HD, Guardiola-Claramonte M, Barron-Gafford GA, Villegas JC, Breshears DD, Zou CB, Troch PA, and Huxman TE. 2009. Reply to Sala: Temperature sensitivity in drought-induced tree mortality hastens the need to further resolve a physiological model of death. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106: E69-E69. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0905282106 PDF
  • Adams HD, Guardiola-Claramonte M, Barron-Gafford GA, Villegas JC, Breshears DD, Zou CB, Troch PA, and Huxman TE. 2009. Temperature sensitivity of drought-induced tree mortality portends increased regional die-off under global-change-type drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 106:7063-7066. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0901438106 PDF
  • Breshears DD, Myers OB, Meyer CW, Barnes FJ, Zou CB, Allen CD, McDowell NG, Pockman WT. 2009. Tree die-off in response to global-change-type drought: mortality insights from a decade of plant water potential measurements. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7:185-189. DOI: 10.1890/080016 PDF
  • Miao SL, Zou CB, Breshears DD. 2009. Vegetation responses to extreme hydrological events: sequence matters. American Naturalist 173:113-118. DOI: 10.1086/593307 PDF
  • Zou CB, Breshears DD, Newman BD, Wilcox BP, Gard MO. 2008. Water dynamics under low- versus high- ponderosa pine tree density: ecohydrological functioning and restoration implications. Ecohydrology 1:309-315. DOI: 10.1002/eco.17 PDF
  • Breshears DD, Huxman TE, Adams HD, Zou CB, Davison JE. 2008. Vegetation synchronously leans upslope as climate warms. Commentary.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 105:11591-11592. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0806579105 PDF
  • Zou CB, Barron-Gafford GA, Breshears DD. 2007. Effects of topography and woody plant canopy cover on near-ground solar radiation: relevant energy inputs for ecohydrology and hydropedology. Geophysical Research Letters 34: L24S21.  DOI: 10.1029/2007GL031484 PDF
  • Zou CB, Barnes PW, Archer S, McMurtry C. 2005. Soil moisture redistribution as a mechanism of facilitation in savanna tree-shrub clusters. Oecologia 145:32-40.  DOI: 10.1007/s00442-005-0110-8.  PDF
  • Zou CB, Penfold C, Sands R, Misra RK, Hudson I. 2001. Effects of soil air-filled porosity, soil matric potential and soil strength on primary root growth of radiata pine seedlings. Plant and Soil 236:105-115. PDF
  • Zou CB, Sands R, Sun OJ. 2000, Physiological responses of radiata pine roots to soil strength and soil water deficit. Tree Physiology 20:1205-1207. PDF
  • Zou CB, Sands R, Buchan G, Hudson I. 2000. Least limiting water range: a potential indicator of physical quality of forest soils. Australian Journal of Soil Research 38:947-958. PDF

(PDFs provided here for convenience of users who have copyright access to these journals.)

Curriculum Vitae: