Dr. Sam Fuhlendorf

EPSCoR Research Focus: 
Observatory Network * Forecasting System
Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology & Management
Oklahoma State University
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B.S. | Agricultural Sciences | Angelo State University | 1987
M.S. | Rangeland Ecology and Management | Texas A&M University | 1992
Ph.D. | Rangeland Ecology and Management | Texas A&M University | 1996
Research Interests: 

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

Dr. Sam Fuhlendorf's research has been used across the world, as people work to develop management plans for remnant grasslands and landscapes.  Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in Montana, the Wichita Mountains National Refuge in Oklahoma and the Muskwa-Kechika Management Area in British Colombia are some of the many sites that have benefited from his research. 

“My work with pyric-herbivory, the ecological interaction of fire and grazing that is critical to patterns of biodiversity, has led to collaborations with scientists and managers to develop management plans across these unique national and international landscapes,” said Fuhlendorf, Sarkeys professor of natural resource ecology and management at Oklahoma State University.

The pyric-herbivory research is a critical element of the management of all these landscapes.

“Additionally, the applied version, known as patch burning or patch burn grazing, is used extensively on private and public lands throughout the world,” he said.

Using this research, a patch burn working group was developed in eight states, leading to the development of new options for cost share programs through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resource Conservation Service.

“Over a 5-year period EQIP supported 117,625 contracts on more than 51.5 million acres and obligated nearly $1.08 billion to help landowners advance stewardship on working agricultural lands and patch burning is being applied through this program throughout the United States,” he said. 

His work recently earned him the Regents Distinguished Research Award, which recognizes research excellence at OSU. Recipients are selected based on evidence of outstanding and meritorious achievements, a distinguished record of past and continuing excellence in research, and national and international recognition.

Dr. Fuhlendorf'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. Samuel Fuhlendorf, a professor in the Natural Resource Ecology and Management program at Oklahoma State University, initiates a controlled burn on a mixed prairie landscape to limit woody plant invasion and promote a healthy interaction between fire and grazing.  [Photo courtesy of John Weir]

A portion of the content above was written by Sean Hubbard/OSU Agricultural Communications Services.

Teaching Responsibilities: 
RLEM 4571: Senior Seminar
RLEM 5020: Graduate Seminar
RLEM 5760: Invasive Species
Research Assistants Funded by EPSCoR: 

John Polo (Staff)
Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University
Research Focus:  Performing GIS and data acquisition.
Email:  polo@okstate.edu


Rheinhardt Scholtz (Post-Doctoral Fellow)
Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University
Research Focus:  Collaborating with various institutions regarding woody encroachment and fire behavior in the Great Plains.
Email:  r.scholtz@okstate.edu


Evan Tanner (Post-Doctoral Fellow)
Dept. of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University
Research Focus:  Investigating temperature between Oklahoma Mesonet stations and the various roles temperature plays in the ecological observatory.
Email:  evan.tanner@okstate.edu


Ashley Unger (Graduate Student)
Dept. of Rangeland Ecology and Management, Oklahoma State University
Research Focus:  Performing sound ecology research; establishing sound instrumentation sites.
Email:  ashley.unger@okstate.edu 

Key Publications: 
  • Churchwell, R., C. A. Davis, S. D. Fuhlendorf, and D. M. Engle. 2005. Direct impacts of cattle grazing on grassland nesting birds. Oklahoma Ornithological Bulletin 38:25-30
  • Lusk, J.J., S.G. Smith, S.D. Fuhlendorf, and F.S. Guthery. 2006. Factors Influencing Northern Bobwhite Nest-Site Selection and Fate. Journal of Wildlife Management-Accepted January 2006. (Impact Factor = 1.5)
Curriculum Vitae: