2001 Progress Report: Assessment of forest disturbance in the mid-Atlantic region: a multi-scale linkage between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems

EPA Grant Number: R826110
Title: Assessment of forest disturbance in the mid-Atlantic region: a multi-scale linkage between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
Investigators: Eshleman, Keith N. , Galloway, James N. , Gardner, Robert H. , Herlihy, Alan T. , Pitelka, Louis F. , Seagle, Steven W. , Townsend, Philip A. , Webb, James R.
Current Investigators: Eshleman, Keith N. , Galloway, James N. , Gardner, Robert H. , Pitelka, Louis F. , Seagle, Steven W. , Webb, James R.
Institution: University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science , Oregon State University , University of Virginia
Current Institution: University of Maryland , Oregon State University , University of Virginia
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 1, 1997 through September 30, 2002
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 2000 through September 30, 2001
Project Amount: $697,834
RFA: Approaches to Multi-scale Ecological Assessment in the Middle Atlantic Region (1997) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Ecosystems


The objective of this research project is to develop, test, validate, and demonstrate an analytical framework for assessing regional-scale forest disturbance in the mid-Atlantic region by establishing a multi-scale linkage between forest disturbance and forest nitrogen (N) export to surface waters. It is hypothesized that excessive N leakage (export) from forested watersheds is a potentially useful, integrative "indicator" of a negative change in forest function that occurs in synchrony with changes in forest structure and species composition. Research focuses on forest disturbance associated with historical defoliation by the gypsy moth larva at spatial scales, ranging from small watersheds to the entire region. The technical approach for establishing a multi-scale linkage between forest disturbance (i.e., gypsy moth defoliation) and N leakage to surface waters has made use of extensive forest, forest disturbance, and water quality data collected for the mid-Atlantic region at all spatial scales; (intensive watershed sites, subregional survey, regional survey, and remotely sensed data). These data were supplemented with on-the-ground measurements of forest species composition for a selected sample of watersheds for which N export had been previously monitored.

Progress Summary:

In 2001, efforts expanded to include the use of remote sensing to more precisely map the distribution of stressed and gypsy moth-impacted forests. In addition, we have begun to use remote sensing to map and model changes in forest composition that may be associated with gypsy moth activity and other landscape-scale changes. These components of the research were developed from an extension of an original project that was granted in late 2000. Some of the key findings from the remote sensing analyses are as follows:

• Remote sensing imagery from the advanced very high resolution radiometer (AVHRR) can be used to map large-scale patterns of forest disturbance. Such imagery is especially useful for areas where ground-based or aerial surveys have not been undertaken.

• Remote sensing using AVHRR provides a more consistent method for identifying patterns of forest disturbance compared to other less adequate methods; however, its accuracy on a single-watershed basis is inferior to an intensive survey.
• Remote sensing using Landsat imagery is sensitive to long-term trends in forest condition.

We also are in the process of completing analyses from the original project, especially with regard to modeling forest distribution using spatial data within a geographic information system (GIS). Previously, it was determined that the predictability of forest composition was highly dependent on forest age (i.e., successional status). In addition, we have found:

• The predictability of forest composition changes with forest age regardless of the prediction method. The approach was tested using regression, regression trees, and ordination. These results indicate that our original conclusions are robust and not method-dependent.

• The predictability of forest composition in public and private lands varies significantly, likely due to widely different management practices.

Finally, we continue to demonstrate the significance and utility of our research into N export from forested watersheds. This has been carried out through a paper in the online peer reviewed journal, The Scientific World, and through links to our project Web site and PC-based animations, that allow visualization of the temporal and spatial patterns in vegetation disturbance, and annual dissolved N export in the Shenandoah National Park.

Future Activities:

In the final year, (extended), we plan to use the AVHRR-derived analyses of forest disturbance in a Chesapeake Bay watershed-wide implementation of the UNERF model. Finally, we will complete our analyses of forest distribution using both GIS models and Landsat. The GIS models will indicate the susceptibility of areas to effects of defoliation (e.g., nutrient export) due to the presence of species favored by gypsy moths, whereas the Landsat models will indicate areas where forest changes (potentially due to many factors) have occurred and likewise affect forest ability to retain nutrients.

Journal Articles on this Report : 2 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 24 publications 9 publications in selected types All 8 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Eshleman KN, Fiscus DA, Castro NM, Webb JR, Deviney Jr. JF. Computation and visualization of regional-scale forest disturbance and associated dissolved nitrogen export from Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. The Scientific World Journal 2001;1(Suppl 2):539-547. R826110 (2001)
R826110 (Final)
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Full-text: TheScientificWorldJournal-Full Text PDF
  • Abstract: TheScientificWorldJournal-Abstract
  • Journal Article Eshleman KN, Fiscus DA, Castro NM, Webb JR, Herlihy AT. Regionalization of disturbance-induced nitrogen leakage from mid-Appalachian forests using a linear systems model. Hydrological Processes 2004;18(14):2713-2725. R826110 (1999)
    R826110 (2000)
    R826110 (2001)
    R826110 (Final)
  • Abstract: Wiley-Abstract
  • Other: Harvard-Abstract
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    watersheds, regionalization, scaling, EMAP, modeling, remote sensing, AVHRR, Landsat, mid-Atlantic region., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Ecosystem Protection, Environmental Exposure & Risk, Water, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Water & Watershed, Nutrients, Hydrology, Environmental Chemistry, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, exploratory research environmental biology, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Mid-Atlantic, Watersheds, Ecological Indicators, Scaling, nutrient transport, environmental monitoring, aquatic ecosystem, EMAP, nutrient supply, remote sensing, ecological exposure, ecological effects, watershed management, ecosystem assessment, N deposition, temperate forest ecosystems, nutrient flux, forest ecosystem, spatial scale, forest ecosystems, modeling, Chesapeake Bay watershed, conservation, environmental consequences, regional scale impacts, ecological assessment, ecological impacts, ecosystem management, gypsy moth, regional scale, terrestrial, aquatic ecosystems, water quality, nitrogen compounds, assessment methods, stress responses, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program, integrated ecological assessment, remotely sensed data, defoliation, interactions, nutrient fluxes, land use, nitrogen, Environmental Monitoring & Assessment Program, indicators, Chesapeake Bay

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 1998
  • 1999 Progress Report
  • 2000 Progress Report
  • Final Report