Dr. John M. Schmid was awarded the 2002 Western Forest Insect Work Conference (WFIWC) Founders' Award.
John Schmid worked as a Research Entomologist for the Rocky Mountain Research Station (USDA Forest Service) for 25 years. His primary responsibility was conducting research studies in the biology, ecology, and management of western forest insects. From 1967 to 1976 the bulk of his work was with spruce beetle and mountain pine beetle. From 1977 to 1983 his focus was on western spruce budworm, the pandora moth, and seed and cone insects in ponderosa pine. Since 1984 his work was concentrated on various aspects of mountain pine beetle, particularly relating to silvicultural treatments and subsequent mountain pine beetle-caused mortality in ponderosa and lodgepole pine in Colorado and the Black Hills of South Dakota. Since his retirement in 1991, Schmid has remained professionally active through presentations, consultations, publications, and continued work with the long-term studies in the Black Hills.
Schmid's leadership and expertise in western forest entomology has been recognized through the numerous requests by entomologists and land managers for advice and technical assistance on forest insect biology, ecology, and management. He also provided support to land managers, forest entomologists, and plant diagnosticians in other federal agencies such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Colorado State Forest Service. These requests resulted in many trips and technical assistance visits throughout the western United States.
While John Schmid's list of publications is impressive in terms of numbers, his publication list also reflects a wide variety of topics. He has authored or coauthored over 80 publications including 29 papers in refereed journals and 42 Rocky Mountain Station publications. Schmid has also given many invited presentations at scientific and technical workshops. Schmid further contributed significantly to the direction of western forest insect research by authoring and coauthoring several Problem Analyses, which guide the research conducted by the USDA Forest Service. As a Faculty Affiliate with the Department of Entomology at Colorado State University, Schmid gave lectures on a regular basis and was involved in various graduate student committees.
Few biologists can achieve the level of dedication to a discipline that John Schmid has. With the discipline of forest entomology, Schmid has excelled in his ability to conduct applied and basic research with a great diversity of insects and topics.
He started his career studying insect natural enemies of mountain pine beetle in the Black Hills, and demonstrated the important role that those native natural enemies have as biological control agents. His work with western spruce budworm included studies on the within-tree distribution of host foliage, egg masses, larvae, and parasites, and on the long-term effects of insecticides on parasite populations. His work led to cost-effective modifications of sampling methodology currently used by regional entomologists.
Working with pandora moth, Schmid examined the distribution of egg masses, larvae, and pupae; the effectiveness of early summer and fall prescribed burning for control; the use of aerially applied insecticides; and the impact of defoliation on tree growth. His work led to the development of sampling methods for egg masses (used to predict population trends) and larvae (used to evaluate the efficacy of control tactics). He demonstrated the limited value of prescribed burns, and identified the most effective insecticide for use against pandora moth. Schmid published a summary of his pandora moth work that greatly extended the knowledge base for this insect.
Schmid's work with cone and seed insects in ponderosa pine led to the identification of the most important species involved, the amount of cone and seed mortality caused, and a technique for determining the extent of sound seeds in cones.
John Schmid is probably best known for his extensive work with spruce beetle. His pioneering work examined the long-term effects of spruce beetle outbreaks on stand conditions. He developed a widely used rating system for determining stand susceptibility to spruce beetle. This system enables forest managers to focus management activities on the more susceptible stands. Schmid also refined chemical control procedures and developed widely used guidelines for managing beetle populations in logging residuals and blowdown. His 1977 publication Spruce Beetle in the Rockies (coauthored with R.H.Frye) is still the most comprehensive source of information about spruce beetle.
Later in his career Schmid again directed his efforts to mountain pine beetle research, primarily in the Black Hills. He established sets of partially cut plots to examine the influence of various stocking levels on bark temperatures and water stress, which in turn affect susceptibility to mountain pine beetle. Schmid demonstrated the role of small-scale variation of stand conditions on bark beetle susceptibility and developed hazard-rating guidelines for ponderosa pine in the Black Hills. His plots are well known in the western forest entomology community as "Schmid's Plots", and were showcased during the 1995 WFIWC.
Adapted from the Founders Award nomination packet by Kathy Sheehan, April 2004.