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Northern Research Station
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726
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You are here: NRS Home / Research Programs /Forest Disturbance Processes / Climate Change and Events / Cumulative Effects of Succession, Management, and Disturbance on Forest Landscapes
Forest Disturbance Processes

Cumulative Effects of Succession, Management, and Disturbance on Forest Landscapes

Research Issue

[image:] Spatial arrangement of forest size classes at simulation year 200 for seven forest management scenarios on a 2835 ha subset of the 71,142 ha landscape in southern Missouri. Individual pixels are 30 m by 30 m (0.09ha).  EAM and UAM indicate even-aged and uneven-aged management, respectively; mixed indicates a combination of the two.  Percentages indicate the proportion of the landscape treated per decade.  Such maps and their digital counterparts can be created for each decade of a modeled scenario. Multi-resource forest planning and management requires knowledge of the long-term, large-scale cumulative effects of alternative management strategies.  For common management goals such as sustaining forest biodiversity, providing habitat for desired wildlife species, and reducing forest fragmentation this requires spatially explicit forecasting tools that enable resource managers to map the spatial arrangement of forest size structure, species composition, wildlife habitat suitability, timber volume, and other attributes over time for large forest landscapes. 


Our Research

[image:] Habitat suitability at year 200 for four wildlife species under four forest management scenarios on a 2835 ha subset of the 71,142 ha landscape for which we simulated landscape change. Habitat suitability ranges from 0 to 1 with 1 being optimal habitat. Individual pixels are 30 m by 30 m (0.09ha).  EAM and UAM indicate even-aged and uneven-aged management, respectively; mixed indicates a combination of the two.  Percentages indicate the proportion of the landscape treated per decade.  Such maps and their digital counterparts can be created for each decade of a modeled scenario.For more than 15 years we have worked together with collaborators from other institutions to develop and apply methods to forecast landscape-scale forest change in response to tree growth and species succession as well as disturbance from timber harvest and fire.  Much of this work has utilized the LANDIS model to forecast spatially explicit (i.e., mapped) changes in forest conditions for management and disturbance scenarios applied to forest landscapes that can exceed one million acres in extent. A unique component of this research has been the development of wildlife habitat suitability models that can be used to estimate change in habitat suitability over time with projected changes in the forest age structure and tree species composition. We have demonstrated the capabilities of these tools to analyze the cumulative effects of management scenarios applied to real forest landscapes in Indiana and Missouri.  Ongoing research is increasing the detail and realism in the projections, expanding the maximum spatial extent of landscapes that can be modeled, and increasing the number of ecoregions where the models have been calibrated and applied.

Expected Outcomes

[image:] Bulleted item  A suite of modeling tools that provide the capacity to forecast management scenarios and compare the cumulative effects for a century or more on landscapes exceeding one million acres in extent. 

[image:] Bulleted item  Increased geographic range of the forest ecosystems where the models have been calibrated and applied. 

[image:] Bulleted item  Increased realism in modeling silvicultural practices including harvesting and natural regeneration.

[image:] Bulleted item  Increased realism in modeled wildfire ignition an spread across the landscape

[image:] Bulleted item  Increased capacity to model wildlife habitat suitability for species of conservation concern. 

[image:] Bulleted item  A larger suite of ancillary models to estimate future timber volumes, biomass, coarse woody debris, and other characteristics associated with projected landscape conditions.

[image:] Bulleted item  Better methods to validate projections based on observation of historical forest change.

Research Results

He, Hong S.; Yang, Jian; Shifley, Stephen R.; Thompson, Frank R. 2011. Challenges of forest landscape modeling – simulating large landscapes and validating results. Landscape and Urban Planning. 100:400-402.   

Rittenhouse, Chadwick D.; Shifley, Stephen R.; Dijak, William D.; Fan, Zhaofei; Thompson, Frank R., III; Millspaugh, Joshua J.; Perez, Judith A.; Sandeno, Cynthia M.  2011. Chapter 13 Application of landscape and habitat suitability models to conservation: the Hoosier National Forest land-management plan.  In: Li, Chao; Lafortezza, Raffaele; Chen, Jiquan, eds. Landscape Ecology in forest management and conservation. Challenges and solutions for global change. Higher Education Pres, Beijing and Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg. 299-328.

Yang, Jian; He, Hong S.; Shifley, R. Stephen; Thompson, Frank R.; Zhang, Yangjian. 2011. An innovative computer design for modeling forest landscape change in very large spatial extents with fine resolutions. Ecological Modelling. 222(15): 2623-2630.

Zhang, Yangjian; He, Hong S.; Shifley, Stephen R.; Yang, Jian; Palik, Brian J. 2011. Evaluating the effects of alternative forest management plans under various physiographic settings using historical records as a reference. Journal of Environmental Management. 92:1618-1627.  

Rittenhouse, Chadwick D.; Thompson, Frank R., III; Dijak, William, D.; Millspaugh, Joshua J.; Clawson, Richard L. 2010. Evaluation of habitat suitability models for forest passerines using demographic data. Journal of Wildlife Management. 74(3): 411-422. 

Shifley, Stephen R.; Yang, Jian; He, Hong  2009.  Modeling fire and other disturbance processes using LANDIS.   In: Hutchinson, Todd F., ed. Proceedings of the 3rd fire in eastern oak forests conference; 2008 May 20-22; Carbondale, IL. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-P-46. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: 107-115.

Shifley, Stephen R.; Thompson, Frank R.; Dijak, William D.; Fan, Zhaofei F.  2008.  Forecasting landscape-scale, cumulative effects of forest management on vegetation and wildlife habitat: a case study of issues, limitations, and opportunities.   Forest Ecology and Management. 254(3): 474-483.

Yang, Jian; He, Hong S.; Shifley, Stephen R.  2008.  Spatial controls of occurrence and spread of wildfires in the Missouri Ozark Highlands.   Ecological Society of America: Ecological Applications. 18: 1212-1225.

Yang, Jian; Healy, Hong S.; Shifley, Stephen R.; Gustafson, Eric J.  2007.  Spatial patterns of modern period human-caused fire occurrence in the Missouri Ozark Highlands.   Forest Science. 53(1): 1-15.

Shifley, Stephen R.; Thompson, Frank R., III; Dijak, William D.; Larson, Michael A.; Millspaugh, Joshua J.  2006.  Simulated effects of forest management alternatives on landscape structure and habitat suitability in the Midwestern United States.   Forest Ecology and Management. 229: 361-377.

Research Participants

Principal Investigator

  • Stephen R. Shifley, US Forest Service- Northern Research Station, Research Forester
  • Frank R Thompson III, US Forest Service- Northern Research Station,  Research Wildlife Biologist
  • William Dijak, US Forest Service- Northern Research Station, Wildlife Biologist \ GIS Specialist

Research Partners

  • Hong He, Forestry Department, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Joshua J. Millspaugh, Fisheries and Wildlife Department, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Chadwick Rittenhouse, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology,  University of Wisconsin-Madison

Last Modified: 03/01/2012