Franco Biondi

Photo of Franco Biondi


Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science
University of Nevada/Mail Stop 186
1664 N. Virginia Street
Reno,  Nevada   89557

Office: (775) 784-6921
Lab: 327-2346

Building: Max Fleischmann Agriculture,  Office 220B
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Laurea, University of Florence, Italy, 1985
M.S., University of Arizona, Tucson, 1987
Ph.D., University of Arizona, Tucson, 1994


I am a tree biologist with a specialty in dendroecology, which is the study of tree rings and wood formation to infer ecological changes. In collaboration with students and colleagues, I have studied tree-dominated landscapes in the Western USA, Mexico, and southern Europe. I am now involved in grant-funded projects aimed at understanding the environmental drivers of intra-annual tree-ring features. 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.

My teaching responsibilities are closely tied to my research experience and interests. At UNR I have taught several courses, from introductory undergraduate classes to graduate seminars (see list below). I also developed, proposed, and established a few new classes on climate and environmental change.

Since 2010 I have served as Subject Matter Editor for Ecosphere, the open‐access journal published by the Ecological Society of America. I am also Specialty Chief Editor for the Paleoecology section of Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.


Physical Geography (GEOG  103; used to be called "Geography of the World's Environment"): Spring 2001, Spring 2002, Fall 2003, Fall 2004, Fall 2005, Spring 2008, Fall 2009

Climate Change and Its Environmental Impacts (GEOG/ATMS 121): Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

Field Methods (GEOG  314): Fall 2001, Fall 2002, Fall 2004

Natural Resource Ecology (NRES  217): Spring 2018

Understanding Climate (GEOG  321): Spring 2006, Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

Regional and Global Issues in Environmental Sciences (ENV/NRES 467) Spring 2017, Spring 2018

Spatial Analysis (GEOG  416/616; used to be called "Spatial Analysis in Geography"): Spring 2001, Spring 2003, Spring 2005, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

Climatology (GEOG  421/621): Fall 2000, Spring 2002, Spring 2004

Geography of Past Environments (GEOG  437/637): Fall 2002, Spring 2010, Fall 2012

Geography Colloquium (GEOG  490/690): Spring 2012

Advanced Geography - Climatology (GEOG  701r): Fall 2005

Advanced Climatology (GEOG  721; used to be called "Seminar in Advanced Climatology" with the code GEOG 720): Fall 2001, Fall 2003, Spring 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2016 


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 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.

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.


2018 Haury Visiting Scholar, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, The University of Arizona, Tucson

2017 Habilitation Committee Member, Fakultät Wissenschaftszentrum Weihenstephan für Ernährung, Landnutzung und Umwelt, Technische Universität München, Germany

2015 Visiting Professor ("Poste Rouge"), Laboratoire d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Environnement (EcoLab), Université Toulouse III , France

2014 Bullard Visiting Fellow, Harvard Forest, Petersham, Massachusetts

2013 Visiting Scientist, Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern, Switzerland

2013 CIRES Visiting Fellow, University of Colorado, Boulder

2013 Participant in the Expert Witness Training Academy, William Mitchell College of Law, Saint Paul,  Minnesota

2011 Fulbright Senior Specialist in Environmental Science, University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy

2008 Hyung K. Shin Award for Excellence in Research, College of Science, University of Nevada, Reno

2008 Senior Ecologist, Ecological Society of America (ESA) Board of Professional Certification

2008 Outstanding Researcher Award, Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno

2007 Foreign Member of the PhD Program in "Scienze e Tecnologie per la Gestione Forestale e Ambientale", University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy

2007 Blaustein Visiting Fellowship, Stanford University, School of Earth Sciences

2007 Guest Professorship, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Chair of Forest Ecology

2006 National Academy of Sciences Committee

2002 NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award

2001 AAG Paper of the Year Award

1992 McGinnies Graduate Scholarship in Arid Lands Studies, University of Arizona

1992 Andrew E. Douglass Scholarship, Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, University of Arizona

1985 Fulbright Award


Devitt, D., B. Bird, B. Lyles, L. Fenstermaker, R. Jasoni, S. Strachan, J. Arnone, F. Biondi, S. Mensing, and L. Saito 2018, Assessing near surface hydrologic processes and plant response over a 1600 m mountain valley gradient in the Great Basin, NV, U.S.A., Water 10(4), article 420 (21 pp.), doi:10.3390/w10040420
Truettner, C., W.R.L. Anderegg, F. Biondi, G.W. Koch, K. Ogle, C. Schwalm, M.E. Litvak, J.D. Shaw, and E. Ziaco 2018, Conifer radial growth response to recent seasonal warming and drought from the southwestern USA, Forest Ecology and Management 418: 55–62
Ziaco, E., C. Truettner, F. Biondi, and S. Bullock 2018, Moisture-driven xylogenesis in Pinus ponderosa from a Mojave Desert mountain reveals high phenological plasticity, Plant, Cell & Environment 41 (4): 823–836. DOI: 10.1111/pce.13152
Piovesan, G., F. Biondi, E. Presutti Saba, M. Baliva, L. Calcagnile, G. Quarta, M. D’Elia, G. De Vivo, A. Schettino, and A. Di Filippo 2018, The oldest dated tree of Europe lives in the wild Pollino massif: Italus, a strip-bark Heldreich's pine, Ecology (accepted)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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