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Janelle Downs

Janelle Downs

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PO Box 999
Richland, WA 99352


Dr. Janelle Downs is a plant ecologist with expertise in landscape and community ecology in arid and semi-arid systems. She manages multidisciplinary projects to assess and monitor terrestrial ecosystem response to changing land use, including effects of invasive species, habitat availability, and wildlife inventory and status. She has experience in designing and executing studies of threatened and endangered species, habitat analysis and change detection, ecosystem restoration, and application of GIS and remote sensing tools to monitor and classify landscapes. She also applies her ecological expertise to NEPA analysis for environmental impact statements for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and in conducting environmental reviews for the Department of Energy. Current research focuses on applying remote sensing technologies with field information to detect invasive plant species and assess fire hazards in the Intermountain West. She has managed multidisciplinary projects that involve field efforts in various parts of the western U.S. for the Department of Defense and the Bureau of Land Management, and currently manages the Ecological Monitoring and Compliance project for the Department of Energy’s 580-sqaure mile Hanford Site.

Research Interests

  • Shrub-steppe ecology
  • Plant community dynamics
  • Invasive species ecology

Education and Credentials

  • Ph.D. Botany, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 2000
  • M.S. Botany, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 1990
  • B.A. Biology, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA 1980

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • Ecological Society of America
  • Society for Range Management
  • Adjunct faculty, Environmental Sciences, Washington State University
  • Board Member, Washington Native Plant Society
  • Science Advisor, Washington State Natural Heritage Committee

Awards and Recognitions

  • Fitzner Eberhardt Award for outstanding contribution to Science and Engineering Education

PNNL Publications


  • Bisht G., M. Huang, T. Zhou, X. Chen, H. Dai, G. Hammond, and W. Riley, et al. 2017. "Coupling a Three-Dimensional Subsurface Flow and Transport Model with a Land Surface Model to Simulate Stream-Aquifer-Land Interactions (CP v1.0)." Geoscientific Model Development 10, no. 12:4539-4562. PNNL-SA-123895. doi:10.5194/gmd-10-4539-2017
  • Burger J., M. Gochfeld, A.L. Bunn, J.L. Downs, C. Jeitner, T. Pittfield, and J.A. Salisbury, et al. 2017. "A Methodology to Evaluate Ecological Resources and Risk Using Two Case Studies at the Department of Energy's Hanford Site." Environmental Management 59, no. 3:357-372. PNNL-SA-124297. doi:10.1007/s00267-016-0798-8


  • Burger J., M. Gochfeld, A.L. Bunn, J.L. Downs, C. Jeitner, T. Pittfield, and J.A. Salisbury. 2016. "Functional Remediation Components: A Conceptual Method of Evaluating the Effects of Remediation on Risks to Ecological Receptors." Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part A 79, no. 21:957-968. PNNL-SA-119690. doi:10.1080/15287394.2016.1201026
  • Tagestad J.D., M.L. Brooks, V.I. Cullinan, J.L. Downs, and R. McKinley. 2016. "Precipitation regime classification for the Mojave Desert: Implications for Fire Occurrence." Journal of Arid Environments 124. PNNL-SA-107574. doi:10.1016/j.jaridenv.2015.09.002


  • Fowler K.M., A.H. Colotelo, J.L. Downs, K.D. Ham, J.W. Henderson, S.A. Montgomery, and C.R. Vernon, et al. 2015. Simplified Processing Method for Meter Data Analysis. PNNL-24331. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Venteris E.R., J.D. Tagestad, J.L. Downs, and C.J. Murray. 2015. "Detection of Anomalous Crop Condition and Soil Variability Mappping Using a 26 Year Landsat Record and the Palmer Crop Moisture Index." International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 39. PNWD-SA-10365. doi:10.1016/j.jag.2015.03.008


  • Downs J.L. 2014. "Sagebrush Ecosystems Under Fire." Douglasia 38, no. 4) (Winter 2014. PNNL-SA-107376.
  • Vermeul V.R., C.E. Strickland, P.D. Thorne, B.N. Bjornstad, R.D. Mackley, M.E. Kelley, and E.C. Sullivan, et al. 2014. "FutureGen 2.0 Monitoring Program: An Overview of the Monitoring Approach and Technologies Selected for Implementation." Energy Procedia 63. PNWD-SA-10395. doi:10.1016/j.egypro.2014.11.438


  • Davies G.M., J.D. Bakker, E. Dettweiler-Robinson, P.W. Dunwiddie, S.A. Hall, J.L. Downs, and J. Evans. 2012. "Trajectories of change in sagebrush steppe vegetation communities in relation to multiple wildfires." Ecological Applications 22, no. 5:1562-1577. PNNL-SA-86059. doi:10.1890/10-2089.1


  • Chamness M.A., C. Perry, J.L. Downs, and S.D. Powell. 2011. 2010 Ecological Survey of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Site. PNNL-20199. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Downs J.L., R.E. Durham, and K.B. Larson. 2011. Revegetation Plan for Areas of the Fitzner-Eberhardt Arid Lands Ecology Reserve Affected by Decommissioning of Buildings and Infrastructure and Debris Clean-up Actions. PNNL-19879. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Downs J.L., S.O. Link, L.L. Rozeboom, R.E. Durham, R.O. Cruz, and S.A. Mckee. 2011. Survey of Revegetated Areas on the Fitzner/Eberhardt Arid Lands Ecology Reserve: Status and Initial Monitoring Results. PNNL-20793. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


  • Becker J.M., J.D. Tagestad, C.A. Duberstein, and J.L. Downs. 2009. Sage-Grouse and Wind Energy: Biology, Habits, and Potential Effects from Development. PNNL-18567. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Sackschewsky M.R., and J.L. Downs. 2009. Area C borrow Site Habitat Assessment. PNNL-18902. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


  • Duberstein C.A., and J.L. Downs. 2008. Characterization and Monitoring Data for Evaluating Constructed Emergent Sandbar Habitat in the Missouri River Mainstem. PNNL-17272. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Nichols W.E., M.L. Rockhold, and J.L. Downs. 2008. Compendium of Data for the Hanford Site (Fiscal Years 2004 to 2008) Applicable to Estimation of Recharge Rates. PNNL-17841. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


  • Sackschewsky M.R., and J.L. Downs. 2007. Ecological Data in Support of the Tank Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement. Part 2: Results of Spring 2007 Field Surveys. PNNL-16620. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
  • Tagestad J.D., and J.L. Downs. 2007. Landscape Measures of Rangeland Condition in the BLM Owyhee Pilot Project: Shrub Canopy Mapping, Vegetation Classification, and Detection of Anomalous Land Areas. PNNL-17209. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


  • Downs J.L., M.A. Simmons, J.A. Stegen, A.L. Bunn, B.L. Tiller, S.L. Thorsten, and R.K. Zufelt. 2004. Ecological Characterization Data for the 2004 Composite Analysis. PNNL-14884. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


  • Link S.O., B.D. Ryan, J.L. Downs, L.L. Cadwell, J.A. Soll, M. Hawke, and J. Ponzetti. 2002. "Lichens and mosses on shrub-steppe soils in Southeastern Washington." Northwest Science 74, no. 1:50-56. PNNL-SA-32625.


  • Sackschewsky M.R., and J.L. Downs. 2001. Vascular Plants of the Hanford Site. PNNL-13688. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


  • Petrie G.M., V.I. Cullinan, L.L. Cadwell, J.L. Downs, E.M. Perry, and J. Turner. 2000. "Integration of Hyperspectral Data for Rangeland Characterization." In International Archives of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (IAPRS), 33, 1142-1148. Stuttgardt:ISPRS. PNNL-SA-32954.


  • Fayer M.J., E.M. Murphy, J.L. Downs, F.O. Khan, C.W. Lindenmeier, and B.N. Bjornstad. 1999. Recharge Data Package for the Immobilized Low-Activity Waste 2001 Performance Assessment. PNNL-13033. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


  • Downs J.L., and R.A. Black. 1998. "Leaf surface characteristics and gas exchange in Artemisia tridentata subspecies wyomingensis and tridentata." In Proceedings, Shrubland Ecotones, 108-112. Fort Collins, Colorado:US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Rocky Mountain Forest & Range Experimental Station. PNNL-SA-31603.


Additional Information