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Charles Ruffner

Charles Ruffner, Professor


Charles M. Ruffner, Ph.D., specializes in old-growth forest ecology and fire history in his research and teaching, and is deeply engaged in service with professional and community groups at multiple scales.

Charles’ SIUC Fire Dawg crew works closely with local agencies, landowners, and interest groups to reintroduce prescribed burning to forests and prairies of the Central Hardwoods region. He currently serves as an Illinois Nature Preserves Commissioner, and held recent leadership roles with the Oak Woodlands and Forest Fire Consortium and the Illinois Prescribed Fire Council. Charles leads study abroad groups to Ireland, Scotland, and Bavaria and completed two overseas sabbaticals in Ireland and Afghanistan.  His involvement with farmers and foresters across the developing world includes work with both military and civilian personnel in Venezuela, Panama, Afghanistan, Dominican Republic, Lithuania, and Morocco.

Charles Ruffner
Office: Agriculture Building, Room 194-C
Phone: 618-453-7469 

Special Interests:

Technical Specialties

Aerial Photo Interpretation, GPS and topographic surveying, Forest Watershed and Agricultural Assessments, Land-use History and Land Tenure Issues, Karez-Irrigation Rehabilitation, Dendrochronology and Fire Scar Analysis, Fire Ecology and Prescribed Burning Operations

Professional Interests

International forestry and agricultural development, mapping, cartography, surveying and land tenure relations, erosion control and ground-truthing remotely sensed data, ecological restoration, prescribed burning applications, climate-vegetation interactions, karez improvement and water delivery systems


  • FOR 100 Introduction to Forestry
  • FOR 315 Fire in Wildland Management
  • FOR 351 Forest Measurements
  • FOR 415 Prescribed Burn Planning
  • FOR 494 Natural Resources of Ireland
  • FOR 508 Historical Ecology
  • FOR 531 Disturbance Ecology
  • Forest Resource Summer Camp

Descriptions available for each of these classes in course listings for Forestry [FOR].


  • Pennsylvania State University [Ph.D. 1999]
  • Pennsylvania State University [MS & BS 1995]
  • US Army Field Artillery Surveyor [1986-1994]

Recent Publications

  • Zikria Zafar, Fahad Rasheed, Sylvain Delagrange, Muhammad Abdullah & Charles Ruffner. 2019. Acclimatization of Terminalia Arjuna saplings to salt stress: characterization of growth, biomass and photosynthetic parameters. Journal of Sustainable Forestry, DOI: 10.1080/10549811.2019.1614067
  • Mohammad Nasir Shalizi, Safiullah Khurram, John W. Groninger, Charles M. Ruffner, Owen T. Burney. 2018. Indigenous Knowledge and Stand Characteristics of a Threatened Tree Species in a Highly Insecure Area: Chilgoza Pine in Afghanistan. Forest Ecology and Management. 413: 1–8. http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.foreco.2018.01.053.
  • Jonathan W.F. Remo, Julia Ryherd, Charles M. Ruffner, Matthew D. Therrell. 2017. Temporal and spatial patterns of sedimentation within the batture lands of the middle Mississippi River, USA. Geomorphology 308 (2018) 129–141.
  • John M. Lhotka1, David L. Parrott, Charles M. Ruffner. 2016. A Dendroecological Investigation of an Upland Oak-Dominated Forest within the Grand Prairie region of Illinois. Natural Areas Journal 36: 310-322.
  • Groninger, J.W., C.M. Ruffner, and L. Christenson. 2015. Water resources development considerations for civilian and military institutions working in highly insecure areas: Lessons from Afghanistan. Int. J. of Water Resources Development. DOI 10.1080/07900627.2015.1004304
  • Groninger, J., and C. M. Ruffner. 2014. Learning Rural Engagement: Afghan Agriculture and the Future of Rural Stabilization. Small Wars Journal, online 3/13/14. URL
  • Jesse A. Riechman, Logan O. Park, Charles M. Ruffner, and John W. Groninger. 2014. Challenges and Motivations behind Sustaining a Volunteer-Based Forest Management
  • Organization: A Case Study of the Southeastern Illinois Prescribed Burn Association. J. For. 112(2):215–220
  • Eric J. Holzmueller *, John W. Groninger and Charles M. Ruffner. 2014. Facilitating Oak and Hickory Regeneration in Mature Central Hardwood Forests Forests, 5, 3344-3351; doi:10.3390/f5123344.
  • Groninger, J., Ruffner, C., Brewster, R., and P. Sommers. 2013. ADAPT: Training for Agriculture’s Seminal Role in Stability Operations for Afghanistan and Beyond. Small Wars Journal 9 (8): 8/22/13
  • Groninger, J., Ruffner, C., and S. Alan Walters. 2013. Sustaining Rural Afghanistan under Limited Central Government Influence. Stability: International Journal of Security and Development. 2(2): 24, 1-13.

Honors and Awards

  • Global War on Terror Medal for Civilians OEF 2012-2013
  • NATO Medal w ISAF bar OEF 2012-2013
  • Mississippi Distinguished Civilian Service Medal 2013
  • Governor Appointment-Illinois Nature Preserves Commission Member 2014-present
  • Seven Seals Award- nominated by the Illinois National Guard Bureau, awarded by the Department of Defense: 

For Meritorious leadership and initiative in the training and readiness of the men and women of the Guard and Reserve Forces of the United States. Dec 11, 2011.