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Faculty

W. Michael Aust

Professor

A.S. East Mississippi Junior College (1979), B.S. Mississippi State University (1982), M.S. Mississippi State University (1985), Ph.D. North Carolina State University (1989)


Interest Areas:

Effects of forest operations on soil and hydrologic processes, water quality, site productivity. Forested wetland and riparian zone ecology, management, restoration. Development and application of forestry management practices for protection of water and site quality.

Teaching Responsibilities

Undergraduate

  • Forest Soils and Hydrology (co-taught) (Fall Semesters) (graduate credit also).
  • Forested Wetlands (Spring Semesters) (graduate credit also).
  • Forest Boundaries and Roads (Spring Semesters).
  • Usually responsible for approximately 1-3 days of Forestry Field Camp.
  • Average student teaching overall evaluation since 1989 = 3.7/4.0.
  • Periodically responsible for lab section in Introduction to Renewable Natural Resources.
  • Often serve as student group advisor for Integrated Forest Management Practicum.

Graduate

  • Co-teach on-line graduate class (Forest Ecology and Management for Secondary Educators).
  • 12 M.S./M.F. and 2 Ph.D. students have completed forest soil-hydrology-wetland research projects under my direction since 1989. 
  • 1 Ph.D., 3 M.S, and 1 M.F. students currently working on wetland/riparian projects.
  • Research projects have funded 4 Postdoctoral positions.
  • Served as committee member for 50+ M.S./Ph.D. programs in five departments.

Selected Research Activities

  • Forest operations effects on soil/hydrologic processes, water quality, site productivity.
  • Forested wetland and riparian zone ecology, management, restoration.
  • Development and application of forestry best management practices for protection of water and site quality.
  • Total funding for 40+ wetland/hydrology research projects since 1989 ≈ $3 million.
  • 100+ professional/technical publications.
  • Streamside Management Zones Width and Harvest Level Effects on Stream Water Quality and Benthic Organisms Within Loblolly Pine Plantations in the Piedmont Region of Virginia. USDA Forest Service Agenda 2020.
  • The Effects of Forested Riparian Buffer Width and Timber Harvest Intensity on Headwater Appalachian Watersheds. MeadWestvaco, USDA Forest Service, National Council on Air and Stream Improvement, Incorporated (NCASI).
  • Toms Creek Riparian Corridor Restoration Project. Nat'l Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
  • Trail Impacts: Best Management Practices for the Hoosier National Forest. USDA Forest Service.
  • Use of Riparian Buffers in Appalachian Hayfields And Pastures to Protect Water Quality. USDA Forest Service.
  • Fifteen Year Effects of Timber Harvesting on Site Productivity, Stand Composition, and Sediment.
  • Accumulation in a Tupelo Cypress Swamp. National Council on Air and Stream Improvement, Incorporated (NCASI).
  • Sustaining the productivity and Function of Intensively Managed Forests. National Council on Air and Stream Improvement, Incorporated (NCASI).

Selected Publications

Forested Wetlands/Riparian Areas

  • Aust, W.M., T.C. Fristoe, P. A.  Gellerstedt, L.A.B. Giese, M. Miwa. 2006. Long-term effects of helicopter and ground-based skidding on site properties and stand growth in a tupelo-cypress wetland.  Forest Ecology and Management.  226: 72-79.
  • Giese, L. A. B., W. M. Aust, R. K. Kolka, and C. C. Trettin. 2003. Biomass and carbon pools of disturbed riparian forests. Forest Ecology & Mgt 180(1-3): 493-508.
  • Giese, L. A., W. M. Aust, C. C. Trettin, R. Kolka. 2000. Spatial and temporal patterns of carbon storage and species richness in three South Carolina coastal plain riparian forests. Ecological Engineering 15 (1): 157-170.

Forest Soils

  • Miwa, M., W. M. Aust, J. A. Burger, S. C. Patterson, E. A. Carter. 2004. Wet weather timber harvesting and site prepartion effects on coastal plain site: a review. Sou. J. Appl. For. 28(3):137-151.
  • Azola, A., W. M. Aust, and J. E. Johnson. 2003. Management effects on erosion of civil war military earthworks. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 58(1): 13-20.
  • Xu, Y.-J., J. A. Burger, W. M. Aust, S. C. Patterson, M. Miwa, D. P. Preston. 2002. Changes in surface water table depth and soil physical properties after harvest and establishment of loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) in Atlantic coastal plain wetlands of South Carolina. Soil and Tillage Research 63: 109-121.
  • Aust, W. M. 2001. Forest Soils. Chapter 7. In J. R. Seiler, W. M. Aust, J. W. Groniger (authors), J. A. Peterson (programmer). Forest Biology and Ecology for secondary educators courseware. Web Based Book, Available Summer, 2001. Virginia Tech.

Forestry Best Management Practices

  • Aust, W. M. and C. R. Blinn. 2004. Forestry best management practices for timber harvesting and site preparation in the eastern United States: an overview of water quality and productivity research during the past 20 years. Water Air and Soil Pollution Focus Journal: 4:5-36.
  • Aust, W. M., R. Visser, T. V. Gallagher, T. Roberts, and M. Poirot. 2003. Cost of six different stream crossing options in the Appalachian area. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry 27(1): 66-70.
  • Hood, S. M., S. M. Zedaker, W. M. Aust, D. W. Smith. 2002. Soil erosion in Appalachian hardwoods: using the universal soil loss equation (USLE) to compare the impacts of different harvest methods. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry. Accepted August 30, 2001.
  • Wynn, T. M., S. Mostaghimi, J. W. Frazee, P. W. McClellan, R. M. Shaffer, W. M. Aust. 2000. Effects of forest harvesting best management practices on surface water quality in the Virginia Coastal Plain. Transaction of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers. 43(4): 927-936.

Non-credit courses, workshops, and other related outreach-extension teaching workshops organized and taught (6)

  • Developed 12 lectures (with Rien Visser) for on-line presentation within US Forest Service Sale Area Harvest Layout Institute (SAHLI) workshop, 2007.
  • Instructor for 1.5 days of US Forest Service Sale Area Harvest Layout Institute (SAHLI) workshop, June, 2005.
  • Co-instructor for 3 day workshop on forest roads for US Forest Service.  June 7-9, 2004.  Blacksburg, VA
  • Instructor for 3.5 days of US Forest Service Sale Area Harvest Layout Institute (SAHLI) workshop, March 3-6, 2003.
  • Forest Road Stream Crossings.  June 1, 2001.  Blacksburg, VA.
  • Forest Road Stream Crossings.  December 13, 2000.  Blacksburg, VA.
  • Forest Road Location Techniques For Steep Terrain.  September 17-18, 1998.  Blacksburg, VA.

Invited Presentations at Workshops and Field Tours to Professional Groups That are Not Referenced by Abstracts, Papers, etc. (40)

  • BMPs for Riparian Forests.  Riparian Workshop, USDA Forest Service Hydrology Lab, Coweeta, NC. November 6, 2007.
    Assessment of restored riparian forests on agricultural lands in Virginia. Cheseapeake Bay Program Forestry Working Group. Winchester, VA. August 8, 2006.
  • Evaluation of the CREP program in Virginia.  Virginia Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation - USDA Forest Service Technical Advisory Visit. Blacksburg, VA. August 15, 2006.
  • Forestry, Flooding, and Modeling Issues in the Appalachian Region. West Virginia Division of Forestry. Charleston, WV.  October 18, 2005.
  • Forested Wetlands.  Virginia Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation Personnel Camp. Blacksburg, VA. April 25, 2005.
  • Harvesting and site preparation effects on water quality. Extension Program on Best Management Practices for Site Preparation and Road Construction Contractors.  Holiday Lake 4-H center, Appomattox VA. March 31, 2005.
  • Road building cost analyses. Extension Program on Best Management Practices for Site Preparation and Road Construction Contractors.  Holiday Lake 4-H center, Appomattox VA. March 31, 2005.
  • Cost comparisons of stream crossing options. Extension Program on Best Management Practices for Site Preparation and Road Construction Contractors.  Holiday Lake 4-H center, Appomattox VA. March 31, 2005.
  • Overview of water quality research.  VT extension program, Clarkesville, VA.  March 11, 2005.
  • Costs and options for forest stream crossings.  VT extension program, Clarkesville, VA.  March 11, 2005.
  • Forest road building cost analyses. VT extension program, Clarkesville, VA.  March 11, 2005.
  • Forestry BMPs for watershed management.  NC extension service, Asheville, NC. April 13, 2004.
  • Silvicultural challenges for management of forested wetlands. Clemson University, Georgetown, SC, April 27, 28 2004.
  • Methods for evaluating forest soils for BMP efficacy. Virginia Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation.  Blackstone, VA. May 12, 2004.
  • Forest stream crossings.  Virginia Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation.  Blacksburg, VA. May 26, 2004.
  • Effects of soil disturbance on forest productivity.  Plum Creek Corporation, Crossett, Arkansas.  August 5-6, 2003.
  • Forest Measurements.  Kentland Farm and Family Field Days.  September 5-6, 2001.
  • Riparian Buffers.  Directors, Superintendents and Farm Managers attending Annual Meeting, Division of Virginia Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station.  March 8-10, 2000.  Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.

Invited Presentations and Field Tours to Student or Lay-person Groups That are Not Referenced by Abstracts, Papers, etc. (19)

  • Forested wetlands and riparian forests. Master Naturalist Program. January 28, 2008. Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.
  • Forested wetlands field trip. Master Naturalist Program. October 13, 2007. Natural heritage Park, Blacksburg, VA.
  • Forested wetlands and riparian forests. Master Naturalist Program. January 29, 2007. Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.
  • Forested wetlands field trip. Master Naturalist Program. October 14, 2006. Natural heritage Park, Blacksburg, VA.
  • Functions and Values of Forest Buffers.  Radford City Council. October 16, 2002.  Radford, VA.
  • Forest Buffers for Improving Water Quality.  August 22, 2002.  Tidewater Agricultural Experiment Station, Suffolk, VA.
  • Opportunities for high-school exercises on forest soils, hydrology, and wetlands.  November 6, 2001.  Jefferson National Forest, Blacksburg, VA.

Honors and Awards

  • 2006 - USDA Forest Service Supervisors Honor Award
  • 2006 - College of Natural Resources and Environment Curriculum Club Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2004 - Forest Resource Assoc., Appalachian Techn. Div. Techn. Writing Award, First Place
  • 2003 - Selected by University Honorarifics Comm. as VA Tech SCHEV award candidate
  • 2003 - College of Natural Resources and Environment Curriculum Club Award for Teaching Excellence
  • 2002 - Virginia Tech Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • 2000 - University Certificate of Teaching Excellence Award
  • 2000 - University Fellow for Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning
  • 2000 - College of Natural Resources and Environment Curriculum Clubs Outstanding Faculty Award
  • 1999 - Gamma Sigma Delta Award of Merit for Teaching
  • 1997 - College of Natural Resources and Environment Outstanding Faculty Award
  • 1993 - APA Best Technical Paper Award
  • 1992 - Research nominated for President's Environment & Conservation Challenge Award
  • 1991 - Best Presentation Award, National Meeting, Soil Science Soc. of America, S-7 Div.
  • 1984 - Outstanding Graduate Student Award, Mississippi State University
  • 1982 - Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award, Mississippi State University

Professional Organizations

  • American Society of Agronomy (1989)

  • Soil Science Society of America (1989)
  • Virginia Forestry Association (1989)

  • Council on Forest Engineering (1988)
  •  Southern Forest Hydrology Group (1988)

  • Sigma Xi (1987)  

  • Society of Wetland Scientists (1987)

  • Gamma Sigma Delta (1984)
  • Southern Hardwood Group (1980)

  • Soc. Amer. Foresters (1980) - Certified Forester

    Headshot of W. Michael Aust

  • (540) 231-4523
  • waust@vt.edu
  • Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation
    228 Cheatham Hall (0324)
    Blacksburg, VA 24061

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