Christian Giardina

Forest Ecologist

Northern Research Station | Pacific Southwest Research Station

Photo of Christian Giardina behind a large plant.

I like being a scientist because I like understanding how nature works. It is great to have a job studying plants and animals and the forests in which they live. I am an ecologist who works to protect forests. Sometimes I work to restore forests that have been damaged by invasive species, human disturbances, or things like drought from climate change. I use information from my research on forests to understand how to make forests more resistant to disturbances. I also learn how to rebuild forest ecosystems after they have been damaged.

My favorite experience as a scientist happened when I was doing forest ecology research in the country of Belize in Central America. I was walking along a river called the Rio Frio (meaning “cold river”), which ran through the most amazing rainforest. Hundreds of species of giant trees grew in this forest. I came upon an enormous cave that the Rio Frio ran through. Amazing plants grew all along the rim of the cave, and it was full of bats. Bats are some of the most incredible creatures in the world.

One of my favorite science experience was finding the most amazing ‘ōhi‘a (ō hē ǝ) tree in the Laupāhoehoe (la pǝ hoy hoy) Wet Forest Unit of the Hawai’i Experimental Tropical Forest. The tree, probably 200 years ago, established as a small seedling on what must have been a truly huge tree that had fallen over. Over the centuries, this tree grew its roots down into the fallen tree while the tree began to decompose and fall away. Over time, the roots of the new tree became exposed as huge and complex pillars supporting this very large ‘ōhi‘a. I have taken dozens of groups to visit with this remarkable tree, to share the remarkable story that is ‘ōhi‘a, and my thoughts on why this special tree looks the way it does.

Additional Resources

  • USDA Forest Service: Christian Giardina

    Learn more about Christian Giardina's research at his Forest Service profile page.
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