Project: Simulating disturbance and succession in Sierra Nevada forests
Support: U.S. Forest Service
Advisor: John Finn
Ecosystem dynamics operate at a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Quantifying the degree to which human impacts may shift a system out of its natural range of variability is an important tool to evaluate the potential impact of resource management actions. In the northern Sierra Nevada, post-European land uses have altered the landscape by changing patterns of disturbance and succession. My M.S. research merges theoretical ecosystem concepts with empirical data to generate inputs to a spatially explicit, stochastic, landscape disturbance and succession model (RMLands), which I will use to simulate landscape change on a portion of the Tahoe National Forest in California. I will statistically analyze and compare landscape composition and configuration during the present, a pre-European settlement historical period, and the next 100 years, incorporating different potential climate scenarios into the model. Specific recommendations will be most useful to managers within the pilot project, but also applicable to areas throughout the Sierra Nevada. Furthermore, my study will provide datasets and a framework for future simulations in other parts of the Sierra Nevada.
My research is funded by the U.S. Forest Service, and conducted in collaboration with silviculturalist Terri Walsh and wildlife biologist Marilyn Tierney of the Yuba River Ranger District on the Tahoe National Forest, with additional professional support from Pacific Southwest Regional ecologists Drs. Becky Estes and Hugh Safford, all with the U.S. Forest Service.
Page updated: August 11, 2015