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Ecosystem Services

We analyze and model the fate of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and habitat connectivity.

Carbon Sequestration

A major focus of our work in recent years has been forecasting the effects of land use/land cover change on ecosystem carbon. Working principally with the U.S. Geological Survey’s LandCarbon project, we have developed a unique suite of software tools that generate projections of the effects of land cover change on carbon dynamics at a range of different scalesOne of the products of this work has been the Land Use and Carbon Scenario Simulator (LUCAS), a tool which the U.S. Geological Survey uses to assess the carbon implications of land use/land cover change across all land cover types in the U.S., including forests, wetlands, shrublands and grasslands. 

Featured Project:

Effects of land cover change on the carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems in the U.S. 

carbon-sequestration 2

Wildlife Habitat

We use ST-Sim, a free package within the SyncroSim modeling framework, in order to project changes in wildlife habitat. ST-Sim allows users to develop stochastic, spatially-explicit models of landscape change for any vegetation community (Daniel, Frid, Sleeter, and Fortin, 2016); the output of ST-Sim can then be used to generate corresponding spatial projections for habitat of various species, including estimates of uncertainty. We have recently used this approach in order to explore questions regarding the effects of timber harvest, wildfire and climate change on woodland caribou habitat in the boreal forest (Daniel 2017) and migratory bird habitat in north eastern British Columbia (Norris et al. 2021).

 

wildlife-habitat 3

Habitat Connectivity

We analyze and model the connectivity of wildlife habitat across diverse landscapes. 

Changes in landscape condition over time can alter the spatial patterns of habitat and movement barriers, thus affecting the ability of different species to move among habitat patches. The survival of many wildlife populations depends on maintaining a connected network of habitat patches in the face of these ongoing changes: short-range connectivity within habitat networks allows wildlife to access patchy resources and to recolonize habitat fragments after local extinctions, while long-range connectivity across habitat networks assists in annual wildlife migrations and allows wildlife to track suitable habitat in the face of climate change.

We specialize in the measurement and modeling of habitat connectivity. We develop and apply methods to identify habitat patches and corridors that contribute the most towards maintaining connectivity across multiple scales and for multiple species (Rayfield, Pelletier, Dumitru, Cardille et al., 2016; Albert, Rayfield, Dumitru, and Gonzalez, 2017). We also provide information about how habitat connectivity may be affected by current and future land management practices or scenarios, including possible effects of climate change. As an example, we have applied this approach to prioritize future conservation efforts in and around the city of Montreal, Canada (Albert, Rayfield, Dumitru, and Gonzalez, 2017).

HabitatConnectivityMontreal2

Conservation priorities within the St. Lawrence Lowlands region near the city of Montreal based on ecological connectivity requirements of the ovenbird - a forest-interior species that breeds in this landscape (Rayfield et al., 2016).

Ecosystem Services

We analyze and model the fate of ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and habitat connectivity.

Carbon Sequestration

A major focus of our work in recent years has been forecasting the effects of land use/land cover change on ecosystem carbon. Working principally with the U.S. Geological Survey’s LandCarbon project, we have developed a unique suite of software tools that generate projections of the effects of land cover change on carbon dynamics at a range of different scalesOne of the products of this work has been the Land Use and Carbon Scenario Simulator (LUCAS), a tool which the U.S. Geological Survey uses to assess the carbon implications of land use/land cover change across all land cover types in the U.S., including forests, wetlands, shrublands and grasslands. 

Featured Project:

Effects of land cover change on the carbon balance of terrestrial ecosystems in the U.S. 

carbon-sequestration 2

Wildlife Habitat

We use ST-Sim, a free package within the SyncroSim modeling framework, in order to project changes in wildlife habitat. ST-Sim allows users to develop stochastic, spatially-explicit models of landscape change for any vegetation community (Daniel, Frid, Sleeter, and Fortin, 2016); the output of ST-Sim can then be used to generate corresponding spatial projections for habitat of various species, including estimates of uncertainty. We have recently used this approach in order to explore questions regarding the effects of timber harvest, wildfire and climate change on woodland caribou habitat in the boreal forest (Daniel 2017) and migratory bird habitat in north eastern British Columbia (Norris et al. 2021).

wildlife-habitat 3

Habitat Connectivity

We analyze and model the connectivity of wildlife habitat across diverse landscapes.

Changes in landscape condition over time can alter the spatial patterns of habitat and movement barriers, thus affecting the ability of different species to move among habitat patches. The survival of many wildlife populations depends on maintaining a connected network of habitat patches in the face of these ongoing changes: short-range connectivity within habitat networks allows wildlife to access patchy resources and to recolonize habitat fragments after local extinctions, while long-range connectivity across habitat networks assists in annual wildlife migrations and allows wildlife to track suitable habitat in the face of climate change.

We specialize in the measurement and modeling of habitat connectivity. We develop and apply methods to identify habitat patches and corridors that contribute the most towards maintaining connectivity across multiple scales and for multiple species (Rayfield, Pelletier, Dumitru, Cardille et al., 2016; Albert, Rayfield, Dumitru, and Gonzalez, 2017). We also provide information about how habitat connectivity may be affected by current and future land management practices or scenarios, including possible effects of climate change. As an example, we have applied this approach to prioritize future conservation efforts in and around the city of Montreal, Canada (Albert, Rayfield, Dumitru, and Gonzalez, 2017).

HabitatConnectivityMontreal2

Conservation priorities within the St. Lawrence Lowlands region near the city of Montreal based on ecological connectivity requirements of the ovenbird - a forest-interior species that breeds in this landscape (Rayfield et al., 2016).

Other Focus Areas

Landscape Change

We develop tools and techniques for forecasting changes in vegetation and land use/land cover.

Details →

Populations Dynamics

Population Dynamics: We predict the dynamics of animal populations and disease, including COVID-19.

Details →

Other Focus Areas

Landscape Change

We develop tools and techniques for forecasting changes in vegetation and land use/land cover.

Details →

Populations Dynamics

Population Dynamics: We predict the dynamics of animal populations and disease, including COVID-19.

Details →