Current and Recent Projects

Modling Invasion Dynamics across Scales (MIDAS)

This NSF funded project seeks to understand how the underlying biological, geophysical and socioeconomic factors lead to the emergence of large scale invasion patterns. Our overarching hypothesis is that macroscale invasion patterns are the result of complex, non-linear, and cross-scale interactions among invader, recipient system, and invasion drivers. Our short-term goal is to determine the underlying mechanisms contributing to macroscale invasion patterns for two important taxa of invaders (plants and insect pests) in forests across the continental United States, by using our trait-based, scale-dependent theoretical framework.

Predicting Regional Invasion Dynamic Processes (Pride)

This NSF funded project aims to develop a cross-scale invasion dynamic predictive model using a functional trait based framework. Our central hypothesis is that invasion dynamics are spatial and temporal scale dependent. Results from this project will assist researchers and natural resource managers to examine “what-ifs” short-term (5-10 years) and long-term (50-100 years) associated with the patterns of drivers and invasive species distributions.

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Land Use and Landscape Analysis for Forest and Agricultural Sustainability and Resilience

This USDA funded project aims to educate outstanding workforce in land use and landscape analysis (LULA), which is a key component in forest and agricultural sustainability and resilience. Major topics in this project includes: forest ecosystem resilience, impact of land use on invasive species, sustainable water resources, sustainable agriculture and biofuel production, and socio-economic behavior and policy development.

Change of Forest Composition and its Feedback in the Eastern U.S.

This long-term, region-wide study aims to quantify forest composition change and its feedback in 37 states in the eastern U.S. over a three-decade long period. The objectives of this project are: 1) To estimate the rate and geographic pattern of abundance change for the top 100 most prevalent tree species and 2) quantify the impact of forest composition change such as carbon sequestration.

Identify Spatio-Temporal Dispersal Corridors and Hotspots of Invasive Species

This project aims to decipher the spatial and temporal distribution, particularly dispersal corridors and hotspots, of invasive species. We propose to conduct a study based on a 22-year-long record of invasive species from all 120 counties in Kentucky and two herbarium collections dating back to 1870s with a total of over 90,000 specimens. The specific objectives of this project are: 1) create a digital database of invasive species, 2) understand the association between landcover type and invasive species, and 3) identify key areas of invasive species hotspots and dispersal corridors.

Monitoring the Invasion of Hemlock Wooly Adelgid in Kentucky

The hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA, Adelges tsugae) is an exotic invasive insect that is rapidly establishing itself in the eastern US, and is the single greatest threat to eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis). We propose to establish a state wide HWA monitoring system. The specific objectives of this project are 1) to determine the spatial distribution of hemlock forests in Kentucky, and 2) to detect incipient HWA infestations, and 3) predict HWA spread based upon the distribution of the hemlock forest type in Kentucky.

Assessing Invasive Exotic Plants in Urban Forest

Invasion of exotic species constitutes one of the most serious forms of ecological degradation in urban forests, affecting millions of metropolitan residents across the country. We propose to study the association between the occurrence of invasive exotic plants and the characteristics of urban forest remnants and their surrounding landscapes (size, structure, usage, and management). The resulting model will assist urban foresters and park managers to prevent and/or mitigate biological invasion for existing and future parks and remnants via better design and management. This research will help to raise public awareness by disseminating research findings through brochures, workshops, and on-line publications.