William PattersonWilliam Patterson

Professor Emeritus

Email: wap

Curriculum Vitae


Prometheus’s Gift (article in UMass Magazine)

Primary Interests

Dr. Patterson became interested in fire ecology as an undergraduate and focused his graduate degree research on fire effects, fire history studies, and the application of fire research to vegetation management. He currently teaches courses in forest ecology and measurements, fire control, and fire management. He has served as an instructor for The Nature Conservancy’s Basic and Advanced Ecological Burning Workshops and is a graduate of and instructor for the Rx90/300 Burn Boss Course. He was one of the first NPS-certified burn bosses in the Northeast. His research during the past 30 years began with fire history studies in northwest Alaska and in New England and currently involves prescribed burning experiments in North Atlantic pine-oak forests and barrens. He has taken sabbaticals as a Bullard Fellow at Harvard University and as a visiting research scientist at CSIRO, Canberra, Australia. For his work in implementing prescribed fire in New England, he received The Nature Conservancy’s President’s Stewardship Award and the New England Wildflower Society’s Conservation Award. He retired in January 2010.

Current Projects

  • See Managing Fuel in Northeastern Barrens 
  • Fire Management at the Montague Plain Wildlife Management Area
  • Evaluating effectiveness of fuels treatments designed to mitigate the
    effects of wildfires in the flammable pitch pine-oak forest vegetation of the
    Atlantic coastal plain

Courses Taught

  • FOREST 197A Forest Fire Control
  • NRC 212 Forest Tree and Shrub Identification

Selected Recent Publications

Jones, M.T and W.A. Patterson III. 2011. Environmental Factors Influencing the local abundance of Equisetum scirpoides near the southern extent of its range.  Rhodora, Vol. 113, No. 954, pp. 187–200.

Barron, E. and W.A. Patterson III. 2008. Monitoring the effects of gypsy moth defoliation on forest stand dynamics on Cape Cod, Massachusetts:  sampling intervals and appropriate interpretations. Forest Ecology and Management 256:2092-2100.

Neill, C., W.A. Patterson III and D.W. Crary, Jr. 2007. Responses of soil carbon, nitrogen and cations to the frequency and seasonality of prescribed burning in a Cape Cod oak-pine forest. Forest Ecology and Management 250:234-243.

Duveneck, M.J. and W.A. Patterson III. 2007. Characterizing canopy fuels to predict fire behavior in pitch pine stands. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry 24(1): 65-70.

Ohman, M., W.A. Patterson III and J.A. Richburg. 2007. Fuel bed characteristics and fire behavior in catbrier shrublands. Pages 203–209 in R.E. Masters and K.E.M. Galley (eds.). Proceedings of the 23rd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: Fire in Grassland and Shrubland Ecosystems. Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, Florida, USA.

Patterson, W.A. III and G.L. Clarke. 2007. Restoring barrens shrublands: decreasing fire hazard and improving rare plant habitat. Pages 73–82 in R.E. Masters and K.E.M. Galley (eds.). Proceedings of the 23rd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: Fire in Grassland and Shrubland Ecosystems. Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, Florida, USA.

Clarke, G.L. and W.A. Patterson III. 2007. The distribution of rare plants in a coastal Massachusetts sandplain: Implications for conservation and management. Biological Conservation 136:4-16.

Schauffler M., S.J. Nelson, J.S. Kahl, G.L. Jacobson, Jr., T.A. Haines, W.A. Patterson III, and K.B. Johnson.  2007. Paleoecological Assessment of Watershed History in PRIMENet Watersheds at Acadia National Park, USA. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 126(1-3):39-53.

Patterson, W.A. III, J.A. Richburg, K.H. Clark, and S. Shaw. 2005. Paleoecology of Calf Island in Boston’s outer harbor. Northeastern Naturalist. 12 (Special Issue):31-48.

Richburg, J.A. and W.A. Patterson III. 2005. Historical vegetation of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Northeastern Naturalist. 12 (Special Issue): 13-30.