Forest ThreatNet

Volume 7, Issue 5 - November/December 2014

Eastern Threat Center Highlights Cont'd

Eastern Threat Center Welcomes New Staff Members

- John Cobb interned with the Center while pursuing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at North Carolina State University (NCSU). He recently returned as an IT specialist.

- Through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, Bjorn Brooks and Dennis Hallema joined the Center as an ecologist and hydrologist, respectively. Brooks is investigating new ways for using satellite data to reveal forest resilience following disturbance. Hallema is studying the relationships between large wildfires and streamflow.

- Extension and technology transfer specialist Sarah Workman is developing new strategies to enhance and exchange Center research, products, and tools.

- Chunwei Liu, visiting from Nanjing University of Science and Technology, is developing evapotranspiration models.

- NCSU research assistant Maxwell Wightman is supporting research on the impacts of management activities on forest water and carbon cycles.


In 50 Years, Will Urban Sprawl Create a “Southern Megalopolis?”

southern_megalopolis_PLOS_ONE.jpgThe rapid pace of human population growth in the southeastern United States is a useful predictor of land and infrastructure development. But researchers are looking beyond increasing population density to examine recent trends in urban sprawl—the low-density development that stretches beyond a city’s core—to project future changes in the region’s land cover patterns. Jennifer Costanza, a North Carolina State University (NCSU) scientist working with the Eastern Threat Center, is a co-author of a recently published urban growth modeling experiment that simulated the spatial pattern and extent of urban sprawl in 2060, if current development trends continue. Results suggest that urban sprawl could double or nearly triple, creating a metropolitan area that stretches from Raleigh, NC, to Atlanta, GA, along with unprecedented challenges to forest ecosystem conservation in the Southeast. Costanza discusses the study and implications for urban planning and natural resource management in an article published in The Post and Courier. The Global Change Forum at NCSU compiled additional media coverage generated by this study.

Right: By 2060, the Piedmont region could be a connected urban landscape, or "southern megalopolis," according to modeling results. Image courtesy of PLOS ONE.


Study Puts a Price Tag on Invasive Pest Impacts in an Urban Landscape

Gypsy_moth_5383245_JGhent.jpgPicture a sizable city invaded by non-native insects. Hundreds of thousands of trees are threatened. Authorities must act to control the situation, but it’s going to cost them—a lot—say collaborating researchers, including Mark Ambrose, a North Carolina State University scientist working with the Eastern Threat Center. Using Baltimore City as a case study, the researchers examined the urban tree landscape and envisioned scenarios of gypsy moth outbreaks. Given that the majority of the more than two million trees in this city would be susceptible to this leaf-munching pest, suppression efforts, tree removal and replacement, and lost ecosystem benefits would be substantial. Costs could range between about $5.5 million to almost $64 million, according to the researchers’ estimates. This study, recently published in the journal Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, provides a framework that other cities can apply to estimate the costs associated with an outbreak of gypsy moths or other invasive pests.

Above: A gypsy moth caterpillar feasts on a leaf. Photo by John H. Ghent, USDA Forest Service,


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