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Dr. Fred Benfield

FACULTY AFFILIATE   |   Global Change Center

Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences

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Dr. Fred Benfield is Professor of Ecology and Associate Head in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech. His research has focused on biodiversity and ecosystem level functional responses of southern Appalachian streams to historical and contemporary disturbances in the landscape. He has concentrated on watershed disturbance created by logging and agriculture and, more recently, by urbanization of agricultural lands.

Dr. Benfield has collaborated with Drs. Jack Webster and Maury Valett, as members of the “VT Stream Team”, on research ranging from a 30 year project following recovery of a stream whose watershed was clear-cut in 1975, to a present study of stream responses to watershed logging operations.

He collaborates with scientists associated with the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory NSF-sponsored Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) site in western North Carolina on a project that seeks to predict how southern Appalachian ecosystems will respond to development over the period 2000-2030. He and Dr. Valett also explored the importance of ecosystems services provided by freshwater mussel beds in streams of western Virginia.

The Virginia Tech Stream Team, now known as the Ecosystem Research Group, is a collaboration of professors and students in the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech who are studying various aspects of ecosystem ecology. The Group collaborates with each other, and with other University units and with other institutions. Within the university, they have had collaborations with faculty in Forestry, Geology, Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation, Agricultural Economics, Civil Engineering, Biological Systems Engineering, and Entomology.