Photo of Kevin M. Potter

Kevin M. Potter

Research Cooperator
P.O. Box 12254
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-2254
Phone: 919-549-4071
kevin.potter@usda.gov

Current Research

Kevin M. Potter is a landscape ecologist and population geneticist who applies the disciplines of landscape ecology, conservation biology and population genetics to assess and mitigate threats to tree species and forest communities, particularly across broad scales.

He is a research associate professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University (NCSU), serving as a joint venture cooperator with the Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center of the USDA Forest Service.

His work includes conservation assessments of vulnerable tree species, rangewide genetic diversity studies of tree species at risk, and broad-scale studies of the ecosystem functions associated with biodiversity.

He also serves as lead editor of U.S. Forest Service annual reports on the health of the nation’s forests.

Research Interests

Kevin Potter's research leverages the disciplines of landscape ecology, conservation biology and population genetics to assess and mitigate threats to tree species and forest communities, particularly across broad scales. His research focuses on developing and applying innovative qualitative methods and models to address broad-scale, complex threats to forest health, with an emphasis on delivering tools that can enable better-informed management of forests and the tree species that constitute them.

Specifically, he has five central areas of research expertise:


Completion of range-wide genetic variation studies of several at-risk forest tree species.

Development of indicators of forest biodiversity and ecosystem function across broad regions using Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data and incorporating evolutionary relationships among species.

Development of a framework to categorize and prioritize forest tree species for conservation and management actions based on life-history characteristics and external threats.

Coordination of national USDA Forest Service annual forest health reports, and contribution of research chapters that employ a novel technique for analyzing large-scale geographical patterns of fine-scale forest health data.

Investigating species invasion patterns and processes across broad spatial scales.

Past Research

Previous to his current position, Kevin Potter was a postdoctoral fellow with the Camcore International Tree Conservation and Domestication program at NCSU, conducting population genetic analyses on imperiled eastern North American hemlock (Tsuga) species and Central American pines. He earned a Ph.D in forestry (2006) and M.S. in natural resources (2002) from NCSU. His doctoral work focused on the population genetics and gene conservation of Fraser fir (Abies fraseri), and his master’s work analyzed the impact of land cover changes on macrobenthic invertebrate communities in North Carolina streams.

Featured Publications and Products

Publications

Research Highlights


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