Peter S. Homann


Department of Environmental Sciences
Huxley College of the Environment
Western Washington University
Bellingham, WA 98225-9181
Office: 360-650-7585
Fax: 360-650-7284


Peter Homann received degrees in chemistry from Case Institute of Technology (B.S., 1975), natural sciences from Western Reserve College (B.A., 1975), forest science from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (M.S., 1977), and forest resources from University of Washington (Ph.D., 1988). Peter was a post-doctoral associate at University of Minnesota and then a research associate and research assistant professor at Oregon State University. He joined the faculty of Western Washington University in 1996.


Current Teaching

ESCI 340 Biostatistical Analysis

ESCI 361 Water Quality

ESCI 362 Water Quality Lab

ESCI 431 Watershed Biogeochemistry

ESCI 497 Ecological Images


Thesis Adviser to Graduate Students

Hanna Winter, in progress, M.S. thesis, Western Washington University, “Response of forest soil respiration to temperature” 

Melissa Pingree, 2011, M.S. thesis, Western Washington University, “The first pre- and post-wildfire charcoal quantification using peroxide-acid digestion”

Emily Cavaliere, 2010, M.S., Western Washington University, “Elwha River sediments: Dynamics of phosphorus during anoxic-oxic transition”

Stephanie McDowell, 2010, M.S., Western Washington University, “Burn severity and whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) regeneration in the North Cascades”

Casey Kulla, 2006, M.S., Western Washington University, “Twentieth-century climate change in the eastern North Cascades and subalpine forest expansion” 

Cliff Palmer, 2004, M.S., Western Washington University, “Influences of aquatic features and confluences on giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) distribution”

Duane Bays, 2003, M.S., Western Washington University, "Spatial variability in organic carbon of soils in western Washington and Oregon with terrain attributes and soil properties"

Angela Haffie, 2002, M.S., Western Washington University, "Performance of dry detention ponds and a grass swale in treating urban stormwater runoff with low influent pollutant concentrations"

Lori Lenhart, 2002, M.S., Western Washington University, "The effect of jet A aviation fuel on soil core microcosms using functional endpoints"

Jason Kapchinske, 1999, M.S., Western Washington University, "Soil carbon-nitrogen relationships affected by climate, soil texture, and vegetation: A continental study"

Chris Swanston, 1999, Ph.D., Oregon State University, "Influences of nitrogen on carbon dynamics in forest soil and density fractions"

Suzanne Remillard, 1999, M.S., Oregon State University, "Soil carbon and nitrogen in old-growth forests in western Oregon and Washington"


Current Research

Research focuses on the interaction between forest vegetation and soils, how management practices alter this interaction, and the potential long-term consequences of the alterations. Within this broad context, the following research projects are ongoing:

Direct assessment of changes in soil pyrogenic C across a forest fire gradient.  The recent rise in wildfires in western USA forests may have substantial immediate and long-term impacts on ecosystem C budgets, including pyrogenic C in the soil.  The proposed research will determine the immediate effect of low- to high-intensity forest fires on soil pyrogenic C fractions at the Long-term Ecosystem Productivity site in Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon.  A portion of this site burned during the 2002 Biscuit wildfire. The specific research questions are:   (1) What is the overall net change in soil pyrogenic C mass, and its fractions, in response to forest fires of varying intensities?  (2) To what extent is the net change in soil pyrogenic C mass, and its fractions, quantitatively related to fine woody fuel consumed, coarse woody fuel consumed, and prefire vegetation structure?  (3) To what extent does loss of old pyrogenic C offset the generation of new pyrogenic C?

Fuel loads, wildfire intensity, and forest soil C and N losses.  These relationships are being examined at the Siskiyou Long-term Ecosystem Productivity site, southwest Oregon, where the 2002 Biscuit wildfire burned pre-established plots.  Prior to the fire, plots were manipulated to yield different vegetation composition and structure, and different amounts of woody debris.  Pre- and post-fire measurements of surface fine woody debris (1-10 cm diameter), forest floor C and N masses, and mineral soil C and N masses allow direct comparison of fine-wood consumption and soil C and N losses on thirteen burned 2-ha plots.  The quantification of aboveground fuel dynamics and belowground soil properties will help fire managers evaluate potential impacts on soils.

Soil Characterization at Long-term Ecosystem Productivity (LTEP) Integrated Research Sites (IRSs). The IRSs represent a cooperative effort between the National Forest System, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Agency, and several universities. The objective is to determine the influence of vegetation and organic matter inputs on ecosystem structure and function of Pacific Northwest forests. The unique features of the study are the size of each treatment plot (6 ha each), the replication of treatments at a site, the replication of the study at three sites, the proposed multiple-rotation duration of the study, and the assessment of soil as an important ecosystem component. This effort presents challenges of quantifying soil element pools in highly heterogeneous areas.


Recent Presentations

Coleman, M., P.S. Homann, et al.  Reciprocal influences: The interaction between forest management and soil carbon and nitrogen.  Presented at Western Conifer Climate Change Consortium, February 2011. 

Pingree, M.R.A, and P.S. Homann. Charcoal quantification of the Biscuit Fire-LTEP soils. Poster presented at International Association of Wildland Fire Conference, Spokane, WA, October 2010.

Homann, P.S.  Convergence and divergence of nutrient stoichiometry in decomposing forest detritus.  Presented at Northwest Science Annual Meeting, Centralia, WA, March 2010

Homann, P.S.  Wildfire effects on forest soil:  Mechanisms of restoration and recovery.   Presented at Society of Ecological Restoration Northwest, Lynnwood, WA, Feb. 2010.

Homann, P.S.  Forest soil response to wildfire: Relation to woody surface fuels.  Presented at 7th North American Forest Ecology Workshop, Logan, UT, June 2009

Homann, P.S., and B.T. Bormann.  Lost ground: Soil C and N decreases associated with the Biscuit Wildfire.  Presented at Northwest Science Association, Seattle, WA, March 2009.


Selected Publications

Homann, P.S., B.T. Bormann, R.L. Darbyshire, B.A. Morrissette.  2011.  Forest soil carbon and nitrogen losses associated with wildfire and prescribed fire.  Soil Science Society of America Journal 75:1926-1934.

Bormann, B.T., P.S. Homann, R.L. Darbyshire, B.A. Morrissette.  2008.  Intense forest wildfire sharply reduces soil C and N:  the first direct evidence.  Canadian Journal of Forest Research 38:2771-2783.

Homann, P.S., B.T. Bormann, J.R. Boyle, R.L. Darbyshire, R. Bigley.  2008.  Soil C and N minimum detectable changes and treatment differences in a multi-treatment forest experiment.  Forest Ecology and Management 255:1724-1734

Homann, P.S., J.S. Kapchinske, and A. Boyce.  2007.  Relations of mineral-soil C and N to climate and texture:  regional differences within the conterminous USA.  Biogeochemistry 85:303-316.   DOI 10.1007/s10533-007-9139-6

Homann, P.S., M.E. Harmon, S.M. Remillard, E.A.H. Smithwick. 2005.  What the soil reveals: Potential total ecosystem C stores of the Pacific Northwest region, USA   Forest Ecology and Management 220:270-283

Homann, P.S., S. Remillard, M. Harmon, B.T. Bormann.  2004.  Carbon storage in coarse and fine fractions of Pacific Northwest old-growth forest soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal 68:2023-2030.

Swanston, C.W., P.S. Homann, B.A. Caldwell, D.D. Myrold, L. Ganio, and P. Sollins. 2004. Long-term effects of elevated nitrogen on forest soil organic matter stability. Biogeochemistry 70:227-250.

Swanston, C.W., B.A. Caldwell, P.S. Homann, L. Ganio, and P. Sollins. 2002. Carbon dynamics during a long-term incubation of separate and recombined density fractions from seven forest soils. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 34:1121-1130.

Homann, P.S., B.A. Caldwell, H.N. Chappell, P. Sollins, and C.W. Swanston. 2001. Douglas-fir soil C and N properties a decade after termination of urea fertilization. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 31:2225-2236.

Homann, P.S., B.T. Bormann, and J.R. Boyle. 2001. Detecting treatment differences in soil carbon and nitrogen resulting from forest manipulations. Soil Science Society of America Journal 65:463-469.

Homann, P.S., R.B. McKane, and P. Sollins. 2000. Belowground processes in forest ecosystem biogeochemical simulation models. Forest Ecology and Management 138:3-18. Also published in J.R. Boyle and R.F. Powers (ed.). 2001. Forest Soils and Ecosystem Sustainability. Elsevier, New York.

Homann, P.S., P. Sollins, M. Fiorella, T. Thorson, and J.S. Kern. 1998. Regional soil organic carbon storage estimates for western Oregon by multiple approaches. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 62:789-796.

Griffiths, R.P., P.S. Homann, and R. Riley. 1998. Denitrification enzyme activity of Douglas-fir and red alder forest soils of the Pacific northwest. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 30:1147-1157.

Compton, J.E., D.W. Cole, and P.S. Homann. 1997. Leaf element concentrations and soil properties in first and second rotation stands of red alder (Alnus rubra). Canadian Journal of Forest Research 27:662-666.

Sollins, P., P.S. Homann, and B. Caldwell. 1996. Stabilization and destabilization of soil organic matter: Mechanisms and controls. Geoderma 74:65-105.

Homann, P.S., and D.F. Grigal. 1996. Below-ground organic carbon and decomposition potential in a field-forest glacial-outwash landscape. Biology and Fertility of Soils 23:207-214.

Johnston, M.H., P.S. Homann, J.K. Engstrom, and D.F. Grigal. 1996. Changes in ecosystem carbon storage over 40 years on an old-field/forest landscape in east-central Minnesota. Forest Ecology and Management 83:17-26.

Homann, P.S., P. Sollins, H.N. Chappell, and A.G. Stangenberger. 1995. Soil organic C in a mountainous, forested region: Relations to site characteristics. Soil Science Society of America Journal 59:1468-1475.

Homann, P.S., D.W. Cole, H. Van Miegroet, and J.E. Compton. 1994. Relationships between cation and nitrate concentrations in soil solutions from mature and harvested red alder stands. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 24:1646-1652.

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