Norman L. Christensen

Norman L. Christensen

Professor Emeritus in the Division of Environmental Sciences & Policy

Christensen's research focuses on the effects of disturbance on structure and function of populations, communities and ecosystems. On going studies include an analysis of patterns of forest development following cropland abandonment as these are affected by environment, stand history and plant demographic patterns. He and his students are pursuing comparative studies of ecosystem responses to varying fire regimes across temperate North America. He is conducting research on the utilization of remote sensing systems such as synthetic aperture radar to evaluate long-term changes in forest ecosystems. In addition to these interests in basic ecological science, Christensen has written widely on the importance of natural disturbance in the management of forests, shrublands, and wetlands. He is interested in the application of basic ecological theory and models to management, and has collaborated with others in the development of the concept of ecosystem management.

In The News


Adeney, JM, Christensen, NL, Vicentini, A, and Cohn-Haft, M. "White-sand Ecosystems in Amazonia." Biotropica 48, no. 1 (January 1, 2016): 7-23. (Review)

Mitchell, S., K. Palmquist, S. Cohen, and N. L. Christensen. “Patterns of vegetation composition and diversity in pine-dominated ecosystems of the Outer Coastal Plain of North Carolina: Implications for ecosystem restoration.” Forest Ecology and Management 356 (November 15, 2015): 64–73.
Stambaugh, Michael C., J Morgan Varner, Reed F. Noss, Daniel C. Dey, Norman L. Christensen, Robert F. Baldwin, Richard P. Guyette, et al. “Clarifying the role of fire in the deciduous forests of eastern North America: reply to Matlack..” Conservation Biology : The Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology 29, no. 3 (June 2015): 942–46.
Christensen, N. L. “An historical perspective on forest succession and its relevance to ecosystem restoration and conservation practice in North America.” Forest Ecology and Management 330 (October 15, 2014): 312–22.
Peet, R. K., N. L. Christensen, and F. S. Gilliam. “Temporal Patterns in Herbaceous Layer Communities of the North Carolina Piedmont.” In The Herbaceous Layer in Forests of Eastern North America, 2014.

Recent Grants


ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects (ENVIRON 593: Independent Studies and Projects)
ENVIRON 590: Special Topics (ENVIRON 590: Special Topics)
XTIANETH 890: Ethical Topics (XTIANETH 890: Ethical Topics)
ENVIRON 393-1: Research Independent Study (ENVIRON 393-1: Research Independent Study)
ENVIRON 899: Master's Project (ENVIRON 899: Master's Project)

Contact Information

Box 90329
Durham, NC 27708-0329
Durham, NC 27708


Ph.D., University of California at Santa Barbara (1973)
M.A., California State University at Fresno (1970)
B.A., California State University at Fresno (1968)