Modeling and mapping landscape pattern resilience and vulnerability

PARTNERSNorth Carolina State University (NCSU); USDA Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA); Virginia Tech

SUMMARY: The spatial patterns of land use change have important implications for natural resources, including wildlife habitat and water quality. Therefore, understanding how the spatial patterns of land use change may change in response to future changes such as climate change, urban growth, and natural disturbances is critical for conserving these resources. This research integrates county-level projections of land use change with state-of-the-art landscape pattern analysis to model and map potential future patterns of land use change in the United States. Researchers are developing the first-ever national map of contemporary forest land use, based on forest inventory plots and environmental and land cover data. Researchers are then using that map, along with environmental data and land use change projections, to map potential future land uses and impacts on landscape patterns. The results will identify and map likely locations of landscape pattern changes nationwide in response to environmental and land use changes, and the types of landscape patterns that will occur there.

EFETAC'S ROLE: The Eastern Threat Center conducts collaborative research with NCSU, Virginia Tech, and FIA researchers.

STATUS: Ongoing

PROGRESS: Researchers are working with the FIA Program to integrate forest plot data, and have developed preliminary models of forest land use and landscape pattern changes for two ecoregions in the United States. This work is integrated with climate change modeling through linkage with work being done for the 2020 U.S. Forest Service Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment.

Preliminary results (2015-2016) from an unfunded, related collaborative effort with the University of Alaska have been published as a peer-reviewed journal article. As of 2018, a prototype analysis of two regions has been completed to set the stage for applications in the 2020 RPA Assessment.


Resources Planning Act Assessment

CONTACT: Kurt Riitters, Eastern Threat Center Research Ecologist and Team Leader, or (919) 549-4015

Updated June 2018

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