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 an environmental scientist with a specialty in dendroecology, which is the study of tree growth and wood formation, and of how they can be used to infer present and past ecological changes. 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.

I have studied tree-dominated landscapes in the North American West, Mexico, and southern Europe. 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 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.

I am now involved in multiple research projects aimed at understanding the environmental drivers of intra-annual tree-ring features. Extramurally-funded 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. 


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 


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 


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