Research Overview

The overarching goal of our research is to understand the interactions among people, land, and biodiversity. Research projects focus on housing growth and its ecological effects, land cover and land use change analysis, and the assessment of wildlife habitat and biodiversity patterns. We conduct our research at broad spatial scales. Remote sensing, GIS, and statistical modeling are our most commonly used research tools.

All projects are conducted in close collaboration with land managers and scientists in organizations such as the U.S. Forest Service, the Nature Conservancy, both the Polish and the Russian Academy of Science, and the WWF. Via these collaborations, we hope to contribute towards the goal of a sustainable future.

Current Research

Hillside of village sacred forest with view of valley below

Sacred Forests in northwest Yunnan, China - a conservation priority?

Village sacred forests are small village forests protected as part of people’s religious beliefs and not because they are important to wildlife or air quality, and therefore may be better conserved without “official” conservation status.

Biodiversity - Birds - Conservation
Jun 2016

One foot in conservation, one in the Ivory tower – The challenges of doing research AND making a difference

In an ideal world, conservation decisions are made based on the best scientific knowledge available. How do these two worlds, with different expectations and different time scales work together?

Feb 2016

Should I stay or should I go? Patterns of building and re-building after wildfires.

Across the United States, the number and cost of wildfires are rising. While rebuilding lost homes is common, Patricia Alexandre finds some unexpected patterns as communities recover from these infernos.

Fire - Houses and WUI - Land Use - Remote Sensing - Statistics
Jan 2016
landscape scene

Satellite classification of tree species

How to map trees which crowns are less than 30 m with 30 m resolution? Ask Konrad Turlej!

Land Use - Remote Sensing
Jan 2016
Field work

Measuring trail use with remote detectors

We suspect that bird reproductive success and community composition may be negatively affected by recreational use of natural areas. But, how do we quantify recreational use?

Birds - Conservation - Land Use
Jan 2016
Study lake in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Northern Wisconsin

The differential importance of aquatic insect productivity on terrestrial, insectivorous bird guilds.

Aerial insectivore birds have experienced population declines while other insectivore guilds have not. Paul’s research shows that aerial insectivore abundance is related to aquatic insect emergence, while gleaner abundance is not.

Biodiversity - Birds - Conservation - Houses and WUI - Land Use
Jan 2016
Study area map

Forest change in Caucasus in 1980-2010

In the Western Caucasus in 1985-2010, the deforestation rate was surprisingly low compared to other Russian regions. The biggest hotspot of forest disturbance was construction for Olympic Games – 2014 that happened within Sochi National Park.

Biodiversity - Conservation - Land Use - Remote Sensing
Jan 2016
Small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus). Photo by: J.N. Stuart at

Where and how well mongooses are doing in Puerto Rico? A study of invasive mongoose in the island

Mongooses in Puerto Rico are sly animals. Diana is finding the routes and eating habits of the species, in an effort to optimize the management in the island.

Biodiversity - Conservation - Invasives
Jan 2016
Jaguar captured in a camera trap by Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda

Finding critical habitat for jaguars when potential distributions of species is not enough: Connectivity to the rescue

For the jaguar in México, habitat connectivity might be the most conservation sound option to avoid decimation. Carlos designed a model that integrates potential distribution and connectivity which could influence management of jaguars in Central Mexico.

Biodiversity - Conservation - Land Use
Jan 2016
Research team members meeting with refuge managers

Working with managers – sharing research results, and getting feedback on research on extreme climate events

Climate change has managers concerned about the future of their refuges. The extreme weather events project members have been meeting with refuge managers to help them understand what will happen.

Biodiversity - Birds - Conservation - Remote Sensing - Statistics
Jan 2016


Contact Us

Forest and Wildlife Ecology
Russell Laboratories (map)
1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI, 53706, USA
phone: +1/608 890 3160
fax: +1/608 262 9922
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