Contact Information

Thomas Poe Cooper Building 730 Rose Street Lexington, KY 40546-0073

Landscape and Spatial Ecology

Landscape and Spatial Ecology

Landscape and Spatial Ecology

Landscape-Scale Evaluation of Forest Health and Response to Disturbance

Photo of landscape ecology research

A McIntire-Stennis supported project 

Emerging Project

Appalachian forests provide a wide range of economic and ecosystem services to the people of Kentucky, ranging from wood products to carbon sequestration, biodiversity, and water quality. However, with changing land use and climate the forests face an intensified disturbance regime, which may cause deterioration of forest health resulting in a host of ecological ramifications. This new McIntire-Stennis supported research at the University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources has focused on quantifying the spatial patterns of forest disturbance and its impacts to forest landscape structure and ecological integrity in Appalachian forest of eastern Kentucky and beyond.

This emerging research project uses satellite imagery and other remote sensing data to determine the extent of forest disturbance and characterize several critical measures of forest health. Models are being developed to correlate satellite and terrestrial data to use in defining changes to our forests due to human activity such as surface mining and timber harvesting as well as wildfires and natural disturbances such as storms and droughts.


Researchers from the University of Kentucky are working in partnership with the USDA Forest Service Southern Experiment Station, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kentucky Geological Survey, and Chinese Academy of Sciences.


This emerging research is aimed at producing and developing technologically advance tools that can be used to efficiently track forest disturbances, both human-caused and natural, and determine changes that these disturbances have on forests.


post-doctorate scholars and students engaged in the project.


of this work as featured cover article in the internationally prestigious Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

About McIntire-Stennis

The McIntire-Stennis program, a unique federal-state partnership, cultivates and delivers forestry and natural resource innovations for a better future. By advancing research and education that increases the understanding of emerging challenges and fosters the development of relevant solutions, the McIntire-Stennis program has ensured healthy resilient forests and communities and an exceptional natural resources workforce since 1962.

Additional Research

Landscape heterogeneity of ecological resistance and resilience to the changes of climate and wildfire disturbance regime in Eurasian boreal forest

Photo of boreal forest

Ecological resistance and resilience are classical concepts, yet now receiving a revived attention as we are actively deciphering the consequences of the rapid climate changes and associated disturbance regime shift. At large landscape scales, different sites may exhibit varied levels of resistance and resilience due to spatial variability in environmental conditions, biological interactions, and disturbance legacies. Understanding spatial heterogeneity of ecological resistance and resilience is critical for managing the landscape in the context of global change.

Here we propose to tackle this overarching question for a Chinese boreal forest, which is located in the southern limits of the Eurasian boreal biome and considered very sensitive to such driving forces. Boreal biome has arguably the largest carbon pool among all the biomes and Eurasian boreal forest covers more than half portion of the boreal biome. Yet this system is understudied comparing to North American counterparts.

In this research, we will use a combination of geospatial technology, field ecology, and forest landscape models to systematically examine spatial heterogeneity of ecological resistance and resilience for this region. The research result will help improve our understanding the response of this important system to climate forcing and its potential feedback to global climate systems.

Jian Yang, Ph.D.

Forestry and Natural Resources Department
(859) 257-7596

Forestry and Natural Resources Extension
(859) 257-7597

Contact Information

Thomas Poe Cooper Building 730 Rose Street Lexington, KY 40546-0073