Obituary: Burton V. Barnes


Burton V. Barnes, 83, died July 3. He was Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus of Forestry, and forest botanist for the University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens. 

Barnes was born Nov. 4, 1930, in Bloomington, Indiana. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry in 1953, and his Ph.D. in forest ecology/forest botany in 1959, both from U-M.

Burton V. Barnes

He was a professor in the School of Natural Resources (now School of Natural Resources & Environment) from 1963-2006. He held the Stephen H. Spurr Collegiate Professorship of Ecology. Barnes taught Forest Ecology and Woody Plants: Biology and Identification for more than 40 years.

Barnes’s research interests focused on forest and landscape ecology to generate basic and applied knowledge in ecosystem conservation, management and restoration. His work provided the intellectual foundation for the landscape-based system by which the U.S. Forest Service manages millions of hectares of National Forest land. 

Over his career, Barnes trained dozens of students who have gone on to leadership positions in academia, national land management agencies and The Nature Conservancy. Through his large classes and emphasis on field-based learning, he inspired thousands of students to learn about plants, soils and landscape ecosystems, and to care about environmental conservation, regardless of their career directions.  

Barnes received many awards and honors, including two prestigious national awards given by the Society of American Foresters: the Barrington Moore Memorial Award for outstanding research in forest biology (1990) and the Carl Alwin Schenck Award in recognition of demonstrated and outstanding performance in teaching and forestry education (2000). He was the U-M Golden Apple Award recipient in 2001, recognizing his outstanding teaching in the classroom and field settings.

Donald R. Zak holds the Burton V. Barnes Collegiate Professorship of Ecology, in recognition of Barnes’s numerous contributions to the School of Natural Resources & Environment and its students.

— Submitted by Alexandra M. Haddad, School of Natural Resources and Environment


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