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Faculty Profile
Andrew Vander Yacht

Andrew  Vander Yacht

Assistant Professor

Orange horizontal rule

310b Bray Hall



  • Ph.D. in Natural Resources, The University of Tennessee, 2018

    • Dissertation: Plant & Fuel Dynamics in Response to Canopy Disturbance & Season of Burn

  • M.S. in Wildlife Science - Statistics Minor, The University of Tennessee, 2013

    • Thesis: Vegetation & Wildlife Response to Oak Savanna & Woodland Restoration

  • B.S. in Biology - Environmental Science & Chemistry Minors, 2009

    • Undergraduate Research: fungal endophytes in grasses & field studies in East Africa

Research Interests

Lab logoI coordinate the Applied Forest & Fire Ecology Lab (AFFEL) at SUNY ESF which seeks to address threats to forest resources by: 1) understanding the effects of disturbance on forest structure, composition, distribution, & function, 2) integrating this knowledge into the design of modern forest management strategies, tactics, & tools, & 3) testing efficacy through application. In general, work in the AFFEL explores the hypothesis that disturbance is the key to forest resilience in the face of modern stressors. More specific interests within this broad theme include:

  • Mechanistic understanding of the forest mesophication process
  • Restoring disturbance-dependent components of forest biodiversity
  • Effects of disturbance on the adaptive capacity of forests
  • Fire and fuel ecology and management in the Eastern USA
  • Microbial plant-soil(-fire) feedbacks & forest regeneration
  • Oak (Quercus spp.) and pine (Pinus spp.) ecology and silviculture
  • Mechanical, chemical, and fire control of American beech competition
  • Ticks, tick-borne disease, and prescribed fire management
  • Relationships between pyrodiversity and biodiversity
  • Traditional ecological knowledge of forest disturbance


  • Forest Management and Wildlife (FOR 496)
  • Fire Ecology and Management (FOR 496)
  • Silviculture (FOR 334 or 534)

Prospective Students

My philosophy towards mentorship involves encouraging and enabling students to pursue their strongest interests and abilities as we codevelop innovative, rigorous, and applied research. If it appears our research interests align, please feel free to reach out via email ( for more information. Funded graduate assistantships, and undergraduate research technicians, will be offered based on demonstrated academic excellence, related research experience, and passion for forest, fire, and wildlife management.

Selected Publications

Vander Yacht, A.L., Kobe, R.K., & Walters, M.B. 2022. Hardwood regeneration in red pine plantations: Thinning and site quality effects on changes in density and species composition from edges to interiors. Forest Ecology & Management 526: 1-29.

Vander Yacht, A.L., Keyser, P.D., Barrioz, S.A., Kwit, C., Stambaugh, M.C., Clatterbuck, W.K., & Jacobs, R. 2020. Litter to glitter: promoting herbaceous groundcover & diversity in mid-southern USA oak forests using canopy disturbance & fire. Fire Ecology 16:17 1-19.

Vander Yacht, A.L., Keyser, P.D., Kwit, C., Stambaugh, M.C., & Clatterbuck, W.K. 2020. Thresholds in woody & herbaceous component coexistence inform the restoration of a fire-dependent community. Applied Vegetation Science 23: 159-174. (Journal Cover Photo).

Keyser, P.D., Vander Yacht, A.L., Henderson, C.A., Willcox, E.V., Cox, M.R., Buehler, D.A., Harper, C.A., Kwit, C., & Stambaugh, M.C.  2019. Wildlife response to oak ecosystem restoration. In: Clark, S.L. & Schweitzer, C.J. (eds.) Oak symposium: sustaining oak forests in the 21st century through science-based management e-Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-237. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station. pg. 157.

Vander Yacht, A.L., Keyser, P.D., Kwit, C., Stambaugh, M.C., Clatterbuck, W.K., & Simon, D.M. 2019. Fuel dynamics during oak woodland & savanna restoration in the Mid-South USA. International Journal of Wildland Fire 28(1): 70-84.

Vander Yacht, A.L., Keyser, P.D., Barrioz, S.A., Kwit, C., Stambaugh, M.C., Clatterbuck, W.K., & Simon, D.M. 2018. Reversing mesophication effects on understory woody vegetation in Mid-Southern oak forests. Forest Science 65(3): 289-303.

Vander Yacht, A.L., Keyser, P.D., Kwit, C., & Stambaugh, M.C. 2018. Effectiveness of joint fuel treatments & vegetation management in restoring Eastern upland oak ecosystems. JFSP Project ID 13-1-04-14 Final Report.

Vander Yacht, A.L., Keyser, P.D., Harper, C.A., Buckley, D.S., & Saxton, A.S. 2017. Restoration of oak woodlands & savannas in Tennessee using canopy-disturbance, fire-season, & herbicides. Forest Ecology & Management 406: 351-360.

Vander Yacht, A.L., Barrioz, S.A., Keyser, P.D., Harper, C.A., Buckley, D.S., Buehler, D.A. & Applegate, R.D. 2017. Vegetation response to canopy disturbance & season of burn during oak woodland & savanna restoration in Tennessee. Forest Ecology & Management 390: 187-202.

Vander Yacht, A.L., Keyser, P.D., Buehler, D.A., Harper, C.A., Buckley, D.S. & Applegate, R.D. 2016. Avian occupancy response to oak woodland & savanna restoration. The Journal of Wildlife Management 80: 1091-1105.

Cox, M.R., Willcox, E.V., Keyser, P.D., & Vander Yacht, A.L. 2016. Bat response to prescribed fire & overstory thinning in hardwood forests on the Cumberland Plateau, Tennessee. Forest Ecology & Management 359: 221-231.

Keyser, P.D., Harper, C.A., Anderson, M. & Vander Yacht, A.L. 2016. Chapter 15: How do I manage for woodlands & savannahs? In: Managing oak forests in the Eastern United States. Keyser, P.D., Fearer, T., & Harper, C.A., editors. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Burger, G., Keyser, P.D., & Vander Yacht, A.L. 2016. Ecology & management of oak woodlands & savannahs. University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Extension Publication PB 1812.

Current Graduate Advisees

Melanie CostelloMelanie Costello

  • Degree Sought: MF
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Vander yacht
  • Area of Study: Forest Mgt and Operations

Sam GilvargSam Gilvarg

  • Degree Sought: PHD
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Vander yacht
  • Area of Study: Forest Resources Management

Personal Statement
I am a Fire Ecologist and my current research is primarily focused on exploring how wildland fire influences the ecology of tickborne diseases in North Atlantic Coastal Woodlands. By understanding how fire influences disease transmission cycles in these systems, we hope to explore how fire management could be potentially employed as a means of promoting disturbance dependent ecosystems while concurrently benefiting the health of neighboring human populations (through a potential reduction in disease risk). Much of my work is predicated upon employing a One- Health approach to solving pressing environmental and epidemiological issues. One- Health is a methodology that aims to find realistic solutions to problems that exist at the interface of human health, environmental resiliency, and animal wellbeing. I am also broadly interested in Plant Conservation, Environmental History, and Emergency Medical Services.

Graduate Research Topic
Fire Ecology & Ecology of Vector-borne Diseases

Favorite Quote
“Land Management is an art that builds on history and is based in science”— Herbert L. Stoddard Sr.

Jade HaumannJade Haumann

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Vander yacht
  • Area of Study: Forest Resources Management

About me
Sgeñnoñ! My name is Jade Haumann, of the Seneca Nation Wolf clan raised here in Onondaga. I am a Sloan Indigenous Graduate Fellow through ESF's Center for Native Peoples and the Environment. I’ve spent my entire life curious about the living world around me, carefully learning from all the plant and animal relatives we live among. Now I will spend my time at ESF studying traditional practices of controlled burns in our Haudenosaunee communities in relation to habitat and species conservation, cultural preservation, food sovereignty, and environmental justice.

Graduate Research Topic
Fire Ecology of the Haudenosaunee

Eva LeggeEva Legge

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Vander yacht
  • Area of Study: Forest Resources Management


Personal Statement
I am a first year Master's of Science student at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) in the department of Sustainable Resources Management (SRM). My research aims to bridge the gap between basic mycorrhizal research and applied forest management. That said, I am lucky to currently be a member of two labs: Dr. Andrew Vander Yacht's Applied Forest and Fire Ecology Lab at SUNY ESF and Dr. Christopher Fernandez' Mycorrhizal Ecology Lab. I got my BA in Biology from Dartmouth College in June 2023, where I worked in the Hicks Pries Soil Ecology Lab. My undergraduate thesis examined the role arbuscular mycorrhizae may play in facilitating forest regeneration under varied levels of forest disturbance (selective harvest and quarter-acre clear cuts). I will continue along a similar vein of research in graduate school and beyond: working with landowners, forest managers, and local knowledge holders in order to help us manage our forests to be more resilient to global change. I'm also an avid science communicator, a practice which was inspired by my science writer grandfather. I believe good communication is necessary for any scientific practice that strives to be wide-reaching and inclusive.

Graduate Research Topic
My research focuses on how seedling-mycorrhizal relationships may be affected by different forest management methods, from timber harvest to prescribed burns.

Favorite Quote
"attention is the beginning of devotion" - Mary Oliver

Maria LoughranMaria Loughran

  • Degree Sought: MS
  • Graduate Advisor(s): Vander yacht
  • Area of Study: Forest Resources Management

Personal Statement
Hello! My name is Maria Loughran (muh-rye-uh lock-ran) and I am a friend of Burner Bob and pursuing a master's degree after ten-long years in the field. I hope to hone my experiences in freshwater ecology, botany, and fire ecology to a fine scientific point while I am here at ESF. My project involves better understanding how hydrologic behaviors might change in soil structures here in New York after interactions with fire (as could happen with prescribed or wildland fire). I am also working in the Applied Forest and Fire Ecology Lab to monitor and improve prescribed fire teaching fields set up at Heiberg Memorial Forest, where students of the new Fire Ecology and Management class perform a field exercise in prescribed fire in the fall semester. These fields also host a growth and survival experiment on American Chestnut, and will monitor how they respond to the prescribed fire events.

Graduate Research Topic
Fire Ecology: Soil and Hydrology, American Chestnut Growth and Survival