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

Land use scenarios and effects on bird habitat in Northern Wisconsin

Trends in land use, and in turn wildlife habitat loss, are closely interlinked with economics. Predicting forest bird diversity under different simulated land use scenarios, including both ecological and economic parameters, improves our understanding of the effects and drivers of habitat loss.

Birds - Land Use - Conservation
Aug 2010

The Collapse of Socialism and the Rise of Fire in Kalmykia

Grassland fires in Kalmykia, Russia increased dramatically following the collapse of socialism. Socio-economic changes reduced livestock numbers and therefore grazing pressure on grasslands. Maxim Dubinin analyzed over 20 years of satellite images to quantify this change.

Land Use - Remote Sensing - Fire
Aug 2010

Something hit me: Moose movement and vehicle collisions in northern Sweden

In Sweden, moose are a national symbol, a major game species - and a hazard for car travel, with some 4,500 accidents per year. SILVIS researcher Wiebke Neumann is studying the patterns of moose movement and accident rates in order to improve safety to both moose and people.

Conservation - Biodiversity
Aug 2010

Simulating future land use across the United States

Dave Helmers and collaborators are using Open Source software tools in an NSF funded study predicting future land use change across the U.S.

Land Use - Conservation
Jul 2010

Of lasers, forests, birds, and collaboration: using LiDAR to predict forest structure and songbird species richness

A 2005 news item in The Sauk Prairie Eagle prompted Adrian Lesak to dive right into the emerging field of laser remote sensing for forestry and biodiversity applications while forming an international research collaboration.

Biodiversity - Birds - Remote Sensing
Jul 2010

Things aren't as they used to be: forest disturbance, birds, and the shifting baseline syndrome

Can a bumper sticker inspire innovative research? In the case of Chad Rittenhouse PhD, a chance sighting motivated an innovative line of research that questions how changes occur in the natural world and how we perceive and measure these changes.

Birds - Remote Sensing - Conservation - Biodiversity - Statistics
Jul 2010

Housing growth and road density in and near Park Service holdings in the Midwest

Worldwide, intensifying land use is limiting management options inside and out of national parks. Shelley Maxted and others developed a land use monitoring approach and applied it to two parks in the Midwest to assess development pressures. They found considerable changes in road and housing density and landscape fragmentation.

Houses and WUI - Land Use
Jul 2010

Patterns of logging in the last two decades in temperate forests of Russia

Social and economic changes occurring in post-socialist Russia have led to shifting patterns of selective logging in the understudied temperate forests of Russia, potentially leading to poor estimates of carbon stocks across this vast region. Matthias Baumann hopes to describe these patterns of forest cover change and refine methods for remotely sensing selective logging and determining it's impacts on carbon stock estimates for these forests.

Land Use - Remote Sensing
Jul 2010

Zoning has heterogeneous effects on housing growth, but in most cases is not strong enough to affect ecosystem functions

Is zoning an appropriate tool to protect lakes? Van Butsic answered this question for a study region in Northern Wisconsin. He found out that zoning is only effective on lakes with a certain baseline development. One size fits all zoning is ineffective.

Conservation - Houses and WUI - Land Use - Statistics
Jul 2010

Optimizing fuel treatment locations in the WUI

How can we optimize resources to protect houses from fire in America's Wildland Urban Interface? A team of SILVIS researchers, lead by Avi Bar Massada, is exploring this question.

Fire - Houses and WUI
Jul 2010


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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