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

Weaving the conservation landscape: habitat connectivity and the future of the National Wildlife Refuge System


Could land use change threaten the US National Wildlife Refuge System? PhD student Chris Hamilton uses cutting-edge technologies to find an answer.

Biodiversity - Conservation - Houses and WUI - Land Use
Nov 2010

New multi-scale landscape indices for spatial pattern analysis


Understanding how spatial patterns of vegetation explain the distribution of organisms is a central theme within Landscape Ecology. Avi Bar Massada developed a novel method to quantify these patterns, which may be more effective than existing methods. He illustrates its effectiveness with bird data from Wisconsin's Fort McCoy.

Birds - Land Use - Statistics
Sep 2010

Land-cover change, people and jaguars - remote sensing or close sensing?


Oscar Cardenas, an invited scientist in the SILVIS Lab, is working on the zoning of a biosphere reserve in Mexico where he studying jaguar habitat in order to assure the species presence for the future. While doing so, he's faced with social issues that are intrinsically and deeply related with natural resources protection and preservation and raise some new research questions.

Remote Sensing - Conservation - Biodiversity
Sep 2010

Highway to the danger zone? Effects of sample size, number of parameters, and collinearity on error estimates from cross-validation


Ecologists often approach their research as a measure everything, predict everything endeavor. While this is advantageous when resources are unlimited, this is rarely the case, and often there are only a few observations. Nick Keuler, resident statistician in the SILVIS lab, offers some guidelines to developing good predictive models.

Statistics
Sep 2010

It's getting hot - heatwave and drought effects on birds


Climate change leads to increases in extreme weather. Tom Albright and co-authors investigate the effect of heatwaves and drought on bird abundance and diversity in the conterminous United States.

Birds - Biodiversity
Aug 2010

Institutional change and logging in post-Soviet Russia


After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, privatization of timber firms was expected to provide an efficient mechanism for the management of forest resources in Russia. Kelly Wendland analyzes how economic factors have impacted harvesting since transition and explores whether weak governance effected investment decisions in European Russia.

Land Use - Remote Sensing - Conservation
Aug 2010

Patterns and processes of agricultural abandonment in Eastern Europe


Alexander Prishchepov is looking at region in Eastern Europe that allows constructing and testing hypothesis about land use changes in a transition from command to market economy.

Land Use - Remote Sensing - Conservation
Aug 2010

Modeling habitat use patterns of critically endangered Siberian Cranes and other wintering waterbirds in Poyang Lake, People's Republic of China


Poyang Lake, one of China's most diverse wildlife areas, increasingly faces shifting use patterns and new threats to the wildlife and human communities who call it home. Ph.D. candidate James Burnham seeks to understand how changing lake hydro-dynamics and human impacts affect the local wildlife, particularly the critically endangered Siberian Crane.

Biodiversity - Birds - Conservation
Aug 2010

If you build it, they will come - but can you still conserve biodiversity?


If you build it, they will come is a cliche, to say the least. In the context of parks, recreation trails, and conservation of biodiversity, Marty Pfeiffer offers a new twist on the old cliche: If they come, can you still conserve biodiversity?

Birds - Land Use - Conservation
Aug 2010

The potential of image texture for measuring vertical vegetation structure


Vegetation structure is an important habitat attribute characterizing bird habitat. Measuring vegetation structure in the field is time consuming and thus inefficient across large scales. Eric Wood is exploring whether use of a metric called image texture derived from satellite and aerial images can potentially streamline the process of assessing vegetation structure and facilitate prediction of bird distribution across large areas.

Birds - Remote Sensing - Conservation
Aug 2010

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