Kara Costanza



Forestry and Environmental Management

Forestry/Geology 200A


1 506 453 5150

Research interests

  • Tree response to abiotic and biotic disturbances, both natural and anthropogenic
  • Shifts in native pest and pathogen incidence and severity in response to changing climates
  • Impact of biotic forest disturbances on local and regional communities dependent on forest resources
  • Influence of site and environmental conditions on tree response to stress
  • Reconstructing past climate and disturbance regimes through the use of tree-rings, subsequently predicting future tree- and forest-level responses to these regimes


Dr. Costanza has a B.A. in International Relations ad French from New York University, a M.Sc. in Forest Resources from the University of Maine and a Ph.D. in Forest Pathology, also from the University of Maine. The major focus of Dr. Costanza’s research pertains to tree response to stressors, both abiotic and biotic.

She is particularly interested in native pests and pathogens, and how changing environmental and climatic conditions can influence the frequency and severity of damage. Dr. Costanza frequently uses dendrochronology (tree-ring science) as a tool for assessing tree- and forest-level response to these stressors. Her research has led to numerous collaborative research projects with scientists, industry partners, and local community members.

Courses taught

  • FOR 1001 – Introduction to Forestry
  • FOR 2416 – Structure and Development of Woody Plants
  • FOR 4020 – Management Practicum
  • FOR 4625 – Integrated Management of Insects and Fungi

Current research projects

  • Causal factors associated with a range-wide shift in health of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) trees in North America
  • Fungal community associated with Caliciopsis canker damage in eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) trees
  • Historical reconstruction of eastern spruce budworm (Choristoneura fumiferana) in eastern North America, using century-old submerged timber

Selected publications

Pettit, J.L., J.M. Berg, I. Andreicheck, M.F. Bekker, K.K.L. Costanza, et. al. In Review. Stream flow variability of the Shoshone River over the past millennium: Implications for water resources. Climatic Change.

Costanza, K.K.L., T.D. Whitney, C.D. McIntire, W.H. Livingston, K.J.K. Gandhi. 2018. Emerging health issues of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) across eastern North America. Forest Ecology and Management. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2018.02.049

Haines S.L.*, K.K.L. Costanza, W.H. Livingston. 2018. Compartmentalization process in eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.) documented using a native fungal pathogen. Forest Ecology and Management. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2018.03.003

Livingston, W.H., J. Pontius, K.K.L. Costanza, S. Trosper. 2017. Using changes in basal area increments to map relative risk of HWA impacts on hemlock growth across the Northeastern U.S.A. Biological Invasions 19(5):1577-1595.

Costanza, K.K.L., W.H. Livingston, D.M. Kashian, R.A. Slesak, J.C. Tardif, J.P. Dech, A.K. Diamond, J.J. Daigle, D.J. Ranco, N.W. Siegert, J. Neptune, S.R. Fraver, M. Reinikainen. 2017. The precarious state of a cultural keystone species: Biological and tribal assessments of the role and future of black ash. Journal of Forestry. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5849/jof.2016-034R1

Brice, B**, K.K. Lorion**, et al. 2013. Signal strength in sub-annual tree-ring chronologies from Pinus ponderosa in northern New Mexico. Tree-Ring Research 69(2): 81-86.

*Denotes student advisee is lead author.
**Denotes lead co-authorship