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Brian C. McCarthy

Dr. Brian McCarthy
Senior Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences

Professor of Environmental & Plant Biology

Brian C. McCarthy is associate dean of faculty, research, and graduate studies in the College of Arts & Sciences. He is also a professor of forest ecology in the Environmental & Plant Biology Department. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in botany, and a doctoral degree in ecology. As part of his training, Dr. McCarthy gained considerable experience in experimental design, basic and applied statistics, and computer programming.

He came to Ohio University in 1992, has published over 125 papers in the peer-reviewed literature, presented over 300 papers at regional and national professional conferences, received over $1.5 mil in research funding, and advised over 50 graduate students to degree completion. He has taught numerous courses including forest science, vegetation analysis, plant community ecology, and biostatistics. All aspects of his scholarship, teaching, professional service, and administrative duties are heavily dominated by data, its analysis, and communication.

Dr. McCarthy oversees all programs affecting faculty, graduate students, and research. He oversees faculty development programs, the faculty fellowship leave process, promotion and tenure, and other faculty related issues. He manages the graduate program for the college, including budgets, development, program review, and policies and procedures for the college. He serves as a liaison to Graduate Chairs of the college, the Graduate College and Office of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate Council. With respect to research, he evaluates requests for support from the college, assists in responding to grant opportunities, assists with program review, chairs the Research Advisory Committee, chairs the Faculty Development Committee, and serves as a liaison to the VP for Research and the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. He also manages facilities and capital planning for the college.

Recent News


Ph.D., Rutgers University, 1989


  • Forest Ecology

McCarthy's lab employs a combination of experimental and observational studies to understand the population dynamics and community ecology of eastern hardwood forests.

There are several focal areas within the lab:

  1. Ecological and life-history attributes associated with hardwood regeneration. Important factors include seed production, dispersal, predation, germination, seedling recruitment, survival, and growth.
  2. Disturbance ecology and community impacts. Dendrochchronological methods are frequently used to evaluate forest disturbance history. Experimental studies are employed to evaluate how fire, gaps, and soils affect the forest community.
  3. Forest herb community structure and diversity. Emphasis on understanding the factors impacting forest understory diversity at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Also studies of human harvesting and cultivation of medicinally important herbs.
  4. Ecology, habitat susceptibility, and control methods for non-native invasive species. Recent species of interest include: garlic mustard, Japanese stiltgrass, Amur honeysuckle, royal paulownia, and tree of heaven.
  5. Forest restoration and mine-land reclamation. Different technologies are being explored to reclaim abandoned strip mines and restore them to hardwood forest. Special emphasis on the ecology and restoration of the American chestnut.

Current and Recent Research Projects

  • Long-term vegetation dynamics at Dysart Woods, an old-growth forest of southeastern Ohio.
  • Spatial heterogeneity and scale factors impacting forest understory communities.
  • Effects of fire and thinning on forest productivity.
  • Effects of fire and thinning on oak mast production and seed predation.
  • Strip mine reclamation using American chestnut.
  • Restoration ecology of mixed oak forests: reintroduction experiments with Castanea dentata.
  • Composition, structure, and diversity of a remnant stand of Castanea dentata in southwestern Wisconsin.

Faculty Research Focus Area: Eastern Deciduous Forest Ecology

Other Websites

Courses Taught

Departmental Service

  • Dysart Woods Laboratory, Director

Professional Service

  • Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society (2002-2013)
  • Editorial Board, International Journal of Forestry Research (2008-2014)
  • Editorial Board, Forests (2009-2014)
  • President, Ohio Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation (2009-2014)
  • Board of Directors, The American Chestnut Foundation (2004-2015)
  • Program Chair, Annual ESA Meeting (2012)

Selected References


Pederson, N., A. W. D'Amato, J. M. Dyer, D. R. Foster, D. Goldblum, J. L. Hart, A. E. Hessl, L. R. Iverson, S. T. Jackson, D. Martin-Benito, B. C. McCarthy, R. W. McEwan, D. J. Mladenoff, A. J. Parker, B. Shuman and J. W. Williams. 2014. Climate remains an important driver of post-European vegetation change in eastern United States. Global Change Biology doi: 10.1111/gcb.12779

Murphy, S. J. and B. C. McCarthy. 2014. Temporal changes in the herbaceous understory community of an old-growth forest: from seasons to decades. Plant Ecology 215: 221-232.

Gilland, K. E. and B. C. McCarthy. 2014. Microtopography influences early successional plant communities on experimental mine land reclamation. Restoration Ecology 22: 232-239.

Anning, A. K., J. M. Dyer, and B. C. McCarthy. 2014. Tree growth response to fuel reduction treatments along a topographic moisture gradient in mixed-oak forests of Ohio, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 44: 413-421.

Anning, A. K. and B. C. McCarthy. 2013. Competition, size and age affect tree growth response to fuel reduction treatments in mixed oak forests of Ohio. Forest Ecology and Management 307: 74-83.

Anning, A. K. and B. C. McCarthy. 2013. Long-term effects of prescribed fire and thinning on residual tree growth in mixed-oak forests of southern Ohio. Ecosystems 16: 1473-1486.

Bauman, J. M., C. H. Keiffer, S. Hiremath, and B. C. McCarthy. 2013. Soil preparation methods promoting ectomyccorrhizal colonization and American chestnut Castanea dentata establishment in coal mine restoration. Journal of Applied Ecology 50(3): 721-729.

Anning, A. K., D. L. Rubino, E. K. Sutherland, and B. C. McCarthy. 2013. Dendrochronological analysis of white oak growth patterns across a topographic moisture gradient in southern Ohio. Dendrochronologia 31(2): 120-128.

Gilland, K. E. and B. C. McCarthy. 2012. Reintroduction of American chestnut (Castanea dentata) on reclaimed mine sites in Ohio: Microsite factors controlling establishment success. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry 29(4): 197-205.

Gilland, K.E., C.H. Keiffer, and B.C. McCarthy. 2012. Seed production of mature forest-grown American chestnut (Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh). Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 139(3): In press.

Chapman, J.I., P.D. Cantino, and B.C. McCarthy. 2012. Seed production in garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)prevented by some methods of manual removal. Natural Areas Journal 32(3): 305-309.

Murphy, S.J. and B.C. McCarthy. 2012. Evidence for topographic control of tree spatial patterning in old-growth, mixed mesophytic forest in southeastern Ohio, USA. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 139(2): 181-193.

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2011. Variation in dormancy and germination in three co-occurring perennial forest herbs. Plant Ecology 212: 1465-1477,

Beasley, R.R. and B.C. McCarthy. 2011. Effects of Microstegium vimineum on native hardwood survival and growth: Implications for restoration. Natural Areas Journal 31: 246-255.

DeForest, J. and B.C. McCarthy. 2011. Diminished Soil Quality in an Old-Growth, Mixed Mesophytic Forest Following Chronic Acid Deposition. Northeastern Naturalist 18: 177-184.

Larrimer, A.K. and B.C. McCarthy. 2010. Biological diversity associated with bigtooth aspen patches in a mixed oak landscape. Castanea 72: 211-225.

McCarthy, B.C., K.E. Gilland, J.M. Bauman, and C.H. Keiffer. 2010. Factors affecting performance of artificially regenerated American chestnut on reclaimed mine sites. Pages 582-597 in R.I. Barnhisel (Ed.), Bridging Reclamation, Science, and Community. Proceedings of the National Meeting of the American Society of Mining Reclamation, Pittsburgh, PA, June 5-11, 2010.

Pai, A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2010. The influence of environmental factors on the germination of Acorus calamus seeds. Seed Science & Technology 38: 390-398.

Pai, A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2010. Suitability of the medicinal plant, Acorus calamus L., for wetland restoration. Natural Areas Journal 30: 380-386.

Small, C.J. and B.C. McCarthy. 2010. Seed bank variation under contrasting site quality conditions in mixed oak forests of southeastern Ohio, USA. International Journal of Forestry Research 2010: 1-13.

Albrecht, M.A. and B.C. McCarthy. 2009. Seedling establishment shapes the distribution of shade-adapted forest herbs across a topographical moisture gradient. Journal of Ecology 97: 1037-1049.

Joesting, H.M., B.C. McCarthy, and K.J. Brown. 2009. Determining the shade tolerance of American chestnut using morphological and physiological leaf parameters. Forest Ecology and Management 257: 280-286.