Detecting and characterizing disturbances and their effects on ecosystems will be increasingly important in light of climate and land use/land cover change. We use remote sensing and other methods to study biotic and abiotic disturbances. We are tackling fundamental questions — like how do disturbances affect ecosystem processes such as carbon and nutrient cycling — but also working to develop knowledge and methods that enable environmental stewardship.
PhD student Sarah Wegmueller is using a range of remote sensing methods including imagery from Planet, Landsat and Sentinel, and airborne hyperspectral imagery to detect early signals of potential pest and pathogen outbreaks in forests. Our objective is to develop tools that on-the-ground resource managers can use to respond quickly to new threats. This work is supported by a US Forest Service Environmental Monitoring grant and with funds from the University of Wisconsin – Madison Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education with funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.
PhD student Natalie Queally and postdoc Ting Zheng are using NASA AVIRIS-Classic imagery to map foliar functional traits and characterize the relationships between functional traits and drought impacts on natural vegetation. This work is supported by a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to Natalie Queally and by funds from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in support of the Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) mission. Previous funding was provided by the NASA Biodiversity program.
Postdoc Matt Garcia is developing meteorology-driven aerobiology models of spruce budworm dispersal in US and Candaian Forests. His work is supported by the Canadian Forest Service and US Forest Service.
Past work funded by the National Science Foundation and NASA merged remote sensing and ground data to understand the impacts of insect disturbance on forest carbon and nutrient dynamics, as well as on water quality. We have also studied impacts of forest fires such as the unprecedented 2011 Pagami Creek Fire in Northern Minnesota on soil processes.