Dr. Monica G.Turner
Department of Integrative Biology
University of Wisconsin
430 Lincoln Dr.
Madison, WI 53706
Ecosystem and
Landscape Ecology Lab
 

Research

You may also read more about ongoing research in our lab...


Complete Projects Include:

Landscape Dynamics in the Southern Appalachians

As part of the Coweeta Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) site since 1994, we have studied landscape and ecological changes in the mountains of western North Carolina working in close collaboration with Dr. Scott Pearson (Mars Hill College). We have focused especially on understanding the influence of land-use history, contemporary landscape patterns and the abiotic template on forest herbs, soils and invasive understory plants in the Southern Appalachian Region. There is a spatial gradient of land-use intensity within the region, with wide, flat river valleys receiving more intense use than the steep slopes. There are also temporal dynamics associated with the exurban development that currently characterizes the region, and forest cover has increased over the past 75 years as both population and housing density have also both increased. Read more about our research findings and current directions...

Read about our research results...

Read about our past studies...

Bark beetles, fire and salvage logging in Greater Yellowstone

Along with fire, bark beetle infestations are key natural disturbances in the Yellowstone region. Several species of native bark beetle (Curculionidae: Scolytinae), e.g., mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) and Douglas-fir beetle (Dendroctonus pseudotsugae), are currently in outbreak phase and affecting extensive areas within Greater Yellowstone. Throughout the West, the severity of epidemics has increased in recent years, and insects have expanded their ranges to new geographic areas and previously unaffected plant communities. Beginning in 2006, we have been studying the recent bark-beetle outbreak that is affecting portions of Yellowstone National Park and surrounding national forests.

Read more about our past studies...

Ecological effects of bioenergy crop production

Although demand for biomass-based energy is increasing, little is known about the potential ecological consequences of large-scale transformation of current agricultural ecosystems to accommodate increased biofuels production. Our research focuses on wildlife and plausible future land-use/land-cover scenarios based on potential biomass markets to model potential consequences for species of conservation concern.

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Landscape Ecology of Ungulate Populations

Understanding the influence of spatial heterogeneity on individual movements and population distributions has been a goal of ecological research for some time. We have been part of a 6-yr study (ending in summer 2006) focused on understanding how spatial heterogeneity shapes the habitat use and movement patterns of elk (Cervus elaphus) at multiple scales and in different landscapes.  This project has involved four other principle investigators (Peter Turchin, University of Connecticut; John Fryxell, University of Guelph; Mark Boyce, University of Alberta; and Evie Merrill, University of Alberta) and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at all sites.  Four study landscapes were included, two in the Rocky Mountains (Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, and Alberta) and two in eastern deciduous forest (Wisconsin and Ontario). Traditional VHF and newly developed global positioning system (GPS) biotelemetry were used at all four sites to monitor elk movements and habitat use.  Spatial and temporal patterns of forage quantity and quality were determined for all landscapes, as were estimates of predation risk, and empirical data collection was integrated with spatial analyses and modeling. 

Read more about our ungulate research...

Ecology of the Wisconsin River-floodplain landscape

Our lab has been involved in research in the river and floodplain of the Wisconsin River since 1998.  We have collaborated closely with Emily Stanley of the Center for Limnology, and focused initially on ecological indicators and ecosystem function for large river-floodplain landscapes with funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency. Research from our initial grant has been completed.

Read more about Wisconsin River Floodplain research....

 

 

 

Invasive Plants in North America and East Asia

Because of the high potential for biological invasion between the US and China, we are investigating the distribution of Sino-American invasive plants, the environmental factors that influence these distributions in both native and exotic ranges, and the ability to predict them using statistical and machine-learning tools. Together with our partners at the US Geological Survey and the National Geomatics Center of China, we are developing distribution data from herbarium specimens, a GIS database of environmental predictor variables, and prediction models for a variety of species. 

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Biocomplexity: riparian land, people and lakes

In collaboration with a number of UW faculty and students, we focused on understanding complex systems of people and nature using a series of research approaches focused on lakes, their shoreline (riparian) systems, and the social and economic organizations of lake users.  This research aims to explore the extent to which nonlinear phenomena can explain and predict changes in lake-riparian-social systems.  Their general result will provide:  (1) a template for basic understanding of biological complexity and (2) an example of success in the integration of socioeconomic and ecological systems. 

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Resin cores, one of the methods for estimating net N mineralization in the field.Disturbance and ecosystem processes in Yellowstone (Mellon Fdn)

With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we have studied interactions between vegetation and ecosystem processes, with particular emphasis on nitrogen (N) cycling, carbon dynamics and the role of post-fire coarse wood, following stand-replacing fire. This study maintained a key focus on areas burned by the 1988 fires, but we also initiated studies in areas burned during 2000 and 2003 and within a chronosequence of stand ages. In addition, we studied within-stand spatial heterogeneity in soil processes and microbial communities in an Alaskan boreal forest that burned in 2001. Analyses to date have revealed important interactions between the post-fire vegetation, newly fallen coarse wood, and nutrient cycling; we briefly summarize some of our findings. View PDF of our June 2009 Final Report to the Mellon Foundation...

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Postfire carbon dynamics

With funding from the Joint Fire Sciences Program, we are examining carbon balance across the entire Yellowstone landscape, how it might change under future climates and fire regimes, and how cycles of carbon and nitrogen interact. Climate, fire (frequency and intensity), and forest structure and development are strongly linked, but our knowledge of the interactions of these factors is poor. We lack the ability to make robust predictions about how changes in climate will alter these interactions and change the carbon balance of a landscape. Our objective is to estimate how changes in fire frequency, pattern, and intensity will alter the distribution of forest age and structure across a landscape and how these changes, in turn, will change the landscape carbon balance. We are determining the current carbon balance for the Yellowstone National Park (YNP) landscape and how much carbon was lost in the 1988 fires. We are also determining how NEP will change for the YNP landscape with changes in climate and fire regimes by calibrating the Century biogeochemical model to assess how changes in climate will alter NEP across stand development, and using models developed in past research to simulate fire frequency, fire spread, and the resulting landscape structure (the distribution of stand age and tree density) for alternative climatic condition. We hypothesize that variation in tree establishment after a fire and the legacy of the prior stand will control the trajectory of NEP through time, and that climate and fire frequency will change the distribution of forest age and structure, and these changes will alter net carbon storage for the landscape.We completed several modeling analyses as well as field data collection; analyses of the empirical data are under way. View PDF of research proposal....

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Read more about ongoing research projects...

Page last updated Wednesday, June 18 2012.