US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Priority Areas

  • Forest Disturbances
  • Forest Inventory and Analysis
Mark Nelson

Mark D. Nelson

Research Forester
1992 Folwell Avenue
St. Paul
United States

Phone: 651-649-5104
Fax: 651-649-5140
Contact Mark D. Nelson

Current Research

I conduct research to support the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program. FIA is responsible for the inventory of United States forest land across all ownership categories. Within the Northern Research Station, FIA conducts inventories for 24 states of the Northeast, Midwest, and Upper Great Plains. My current research involves the use of forest inventory data, geospatial data, and satellite imagery for assessing and mapping forest land cover, land use, land change, canopy cover, wildlife habitat, and water quality and quantity.

Research Interests

  • Forest biodiversity.
  • Wildlife habitat.
  • Forest-associated freshwater fish.
  • Land cover, land use, and change.
  • Why This Research is Important

    People increasingly are asking not only what forest resources are present, but where are they located and how are they arranged within the forest landscape. By integrating field inventory data with satellite remote sensing imagery and other geospatial datasets, we can improve our understanding of the spatial distribution and variability of forest resources. Geospatial information derived from this data integration provides for improved assessments of wildlife habitat for species that are dependent upon both vegetation structure and spatial pattern of forest patches.


    • University of Minnesota, Ph.D. Natural Resources Science and Management 2005
    • University of Minnesota, M.S. Wildlife Conservation 1992
    • Winona State University, B.A. Biology 1982

    Professional Experience

    • Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota
      2017 - Current

    Professional Organizations

    • Remote Sensing, Journal Referee (2019 - Current)
    • Forests, Journal Referee (2018 - Current)
    • Journal of Forestry, Journal Referee (2012 - Current)
    • International Association for Landscape Ecology (U.S. Chapter), Member (2011 - Current)
    • International Journal of Remote Sensing, Journal Referee (2008 - Current)
    • Landscape Ecology, Journal Referee (2008 - Current)
    • The Wildlife Society, Member (2006 - Current)
    • Remote Sensing of Environment, Journal Referee (2005 - Current)
    • American Society for Photogrammetry & Remote Sensing, Member (2001 - Current)
    • Forest Science, Associate Editor (2013 - 2016)
    • Northern Journal of Applied Forestry (GIS and Remote Sensing), Associate Editor (2010 - 2013)

    Awards & Recognition

    • Partners In Flight: Investigations Award., 2017
      Group award for "Long-term forest bird monitoring in the Western Great Lakes region, USA: twenty years of National Forest monitoring, trends, and conservation recommendations."
    • Wings Across the Americas Conservation Award: Habitat Conservation Partnership Award., 2017
      Group award for “Analysis of long-term forest bird monitoring data from National Forests of the western Great Lakes Region.”
    • Keepsake award, Acting Director, Northern Research Station, and FIA Program Manager., 2016
      Team award in recognition for contributions to “Future Forests of the Northern United States”.
    • National Research Highlight, USDA Forest Service., 2014
      Team award: Forest Ownership Map of the Conterminous United States.
    • National Research Highlight, USDA Forest Service., 2013
      Team award: Can Tree Species Rapidly Adapt to Climate Change by Migrating?
    • Keepsake award. Northern Research Station Executive Team, USDA Forest Service., 2011
      Team award (Nelson was team leader) in recognition for 2011 Research Highlight: Using Landsat Time Series Stacks for modeling and mapping early successional habitats.
    • National Research Highlight, USDA Forest Service., 2011
      Team award: Forest Land Estimates Improved by Novel Automated Mapping Technique Using Winter Satellite Imagery
    • Certificate of Appreciation. Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry, USDA Forest Service., 2010
      Certificate of Appreciation. 2010. Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry, USDA Forest Service. For developing the forest ownership data used in the Private Forests, Public Benefits report and for valuable advice and assistance with many other aspects
    • Wings Across the Americas Award. Chief, USDA Forest Service., 2008
      Group award for significant contribution to mapping landbirds across Bird Conservation Regions: decision support for Joint Ventures.
    • Secretary of Agriculture Group Honor Award for Excellence. Secretary, USDA., 2008
      Open Space Conservation Team - for significant contributions in protecting and enhancing open space and natural resources that provide vital ecosystems services and benefi
    • Certificate of Appreciation. Chief, USDA Forest Service., 2005
      Forests on the Edge Project. For hard work and dedication in assembling a map accurately depicting national forest cover and ownership, and for providing key professional advice.
    • Station Technology Transfer Award. Director, North Central Research Station, USDA Forest Service., 2001
      Group award for advancement of the Forest Inventory and Analysis annual inventory; and Forest Inventory and Analysis/Forest Health integration, through conception, development, implementation, distribution, and support of a national hexagon grid sampling

    Featured Publications & Products


    Research Highlights


    Forest Land Estimates Improved by Novel Automated Mapping Technique Using Winter Satellite Imagery

    Most automated satellite-based approaches for mapping forest lands rely on summer satellite imagery and are usually inconsistent with FIA plot-b ...


    Mapping Young Forest Habitats across the Great Lakes Region

    NRS research scientists from the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program used current FIA data to estimate trends in abundance of young fore ...


    “Long live the wood turtles!” is both a cheer and a fact

    Forest Service researchers and their collaborators revisited a 25-year-old study and found that old turtles can deliver new knowledge about the ...


    Last updated on : 12/14/2021