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Linda Joyce
Rocky Mountain Research Station
240 West Prospect
Fort Collins, CO 80526
Phone: 970-498-2560
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Profiling Diseases  

Using Landscape Metrics to Measure Suitability of a Forested Watershed for Different Objectives

Forest managers traditionally treat a forest as a collection of stands, where each stand is inventoried and managed for specific objectives. Several contiguous stands make up a watershed. The easily identified boundaries of a watershed have resulted in this geographic boundary becoming an important landscape for management. Characterizing the complexity of a landscape within the planning process has been a challenge. Finer scaled techniques are not always appropriate for large spatial scales, such as a watershed. Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists worked with National Forest planners to demonstrate the utility of profiling as a tool for forest planning, and the utility of comparing several metrics for spatial heterogeneity based on distribution of stands with suitable characteristics under actual and optimal conditions on a watershed. Optimal conditions are defined by expert opinions. The actual condition over the watershed, as determined from existing stand inventory data, is then compared with target conditions using an analysis method called profiling, which develops profiles using a multidimensional scaling (MDS) procedure. Profiles for various target landscapes are plotted in MDS. The distance from the center of the target space to the plotted position of the actual stand is a measure of dissimilarity. By comparing the condition of the actual watershed with what the experts envisioned would be optimal, suitability of the watershed for the given use can be quantified. Planners will then have an idea of whether the watershed can be managed to reach the desired objective, and managers will have a tool to monitor changes over time for evaluating progress toward meeting forest plans.

Citation: Lundquist, J.E., L.R. Lindner, and J. Popp. 2001. Using landscape metrics to measure suitability of a forested landscape: a case study for old growth. Canadian Journal of Forestry Research. 31:1786-1792.

Integrating concepts of landscape ecology with the molecular biology of forest pathogens

Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists John Lundquist and Ned Klopfenstein argue that, rather than focusing research on characterizing diversity within forest pathogens using molecular markers, we need to also broaden our scope to characterize the features of the landscape that help create or maintain this microbial diversity. Forest diseases commonly occur in a patchwork across natural landscapes, with resultant diversity in genetic composition of fragmented populations. Genetic diversity is a result of local adaptation caused by evolutionary forces that can act rapidly in tiny microbes. The challenge is to determine what genetic level is meaningful at the landscape (metapopulation) scale. Understanding the dynamics of disease in complex ecosystems has always been a major issue in forestry: big, slow-acting forests trying to fight off small, fast microbes. Now, geographic information systems (GIS), spatial analysis and modeling, and remote sensing give us the tools to detect and interpret genetic differences across broad disease populations. Integrating molecular biology with landscape ecology will help land managers better understand, and deal with, forest disease patterns and the processes that produce them.

Citation: Lundquist, JE, Klopfenstein, NB. 2001. Integrating concepts of landscape ecology with the molecular biology of forest pathogens. Forest Ecology and Management 150: 213-222.

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