Photo of forested landscape
Featured Research

Landscape-Scale Evaluation of Forest Health and Response to Disturbance

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.

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.

Image of landscape-scale forest health research

Central Appalachian counties with percentage area mined and contrasting topographies


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.

Icon - academics


post-doctorate scholars and students engaged in the project.

Icon - recognition


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

Additional Research
Map of accumulated mining reclamation in Eastern Kentucky

Integration of landscape ecology and ecosystem service assessment for spatially-explicit appraisal of surface mining reclamation benefits in eastern Kentucky

Surface mining has impacted a large portion (> 10,000 ha) of eastern Kentucky’s land. These lands are important parts of the Appalachian forest landscape, providing invaluable ecological goods and services (EGS) to the human society. Read more.


Photo of boreal forest

Landscape heterogeneity of ecological resistance and resilience to the changes of climate and wildfire disturbance regime in Eurasian 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. Read more.

Demographic and genetic characteristics of a recolonizing black bear population in eastern Kentucky

Black bears are thought to have become extinct in Kentucky before 1900 as a result of overhunting and forest loss. Bears began a steady recolonization... Read more.


Using Landscape Genetics to Investigate Red Wolf-Coyote Hybridization and Coyote Colonization of Kentucky

The red wolf is a critically endangered canid species that numbers < 100 individuals in the wild. In contrast, the coyote has rapidly expanded its range and population size...Read more.