With recent advances in GIS and remote sensing technology, we have
been able to pursue studies in landscape ecology. For example,
we are currently involved in a study in the Baltimore, MD area where
we are looking at changes in forest composition over the last 50
years as they relate to changes in landscape pattern. The below
figure represents an area near Baltimore which has undergone a great
deal of change since 1949. Each different color in the bottom
three photos represents a different land use type. We can quantify
these changes and examine their relationship with changes in forest
composition at the FIA plot at the center of the photos.
Other work we have done includes
a fragmentation photointerpretation studies. Photointerpretation
involves overlaying a grid of points on 1:40,000 aerial photography.
Each of these points is photointerpreted, and certain characteristics
of the forest below the point, as well parameters such as the distance
to and type of nearest developed land use, are recorded.
We are also interested in characterizing
landscapes using classified satellite images. These procedures
allow us to automate patch analysis over very large areas, and look
at regional trends in forest use and fragmentation. The below
image shows 2 portions of Connecticut, and associated landscape
metrics. The trick is to define the relationship between these
metrics and biological processes.