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

Research

Ongoing research in our lab includes the following general areas:

You may also read more about completed research projects...


 

Fire, vegetation and ecosystem processes in Yellowstone National Park

The size and severity of the fires that burned through Yellowstone National Park (YNP) and surrounding lands (see map) during the summer of 1988 surprised scientists, park managers and the general public. The 1988 fires were a large, infrequent but natural disturbance that created a complex landscape mosaic. Since the fires, Turner and colleagues have been studying the effects of fire size and pattern on postfire vegetation and ecosystem processes. Natural disturbances are key sources of heterogeneity in many ecosystems, yet the causes and consequences of disturbances that are large, severe and infrequent are not well understood.

Read more about our research results....

For a summary of key findings geared for a general audience, read "Rising from the Ashes" from the Summer 2008 issue of ON WISCONSIN.

Read about our ongoing Yellowstone projects...

 

 

 

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 current studies...

Climate change and disturbance regimes

Many natural disturbances are influenced strongly by climate change, and understanding the ecological effects of climate change, including the consequences for future disturbance regimes, is a focus of our research. In Greater Yellowstone, we began considering the consequences of climate change in the early 1990s. We are currently studying how climate change may affect fire dynamics in Yellowstone and the Northern Rockies.

Read more about our current studies...

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 current studies...

Land-Water Interactions in Wisconsin Landscapes

The interfaces between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems (i.e., riparian zones) are key functional linkages in most temperate landscapes. Research in our lab has addressed a variety of land-water linkages, including large river-floodplain systems along the Wisconsin River; the Northern Highlands Lake District centered on Vilas County, Wisconsin; and lakes of the Madison area. We collaborate closely in these studies with researchers at the UW-Madison Center for Limnology and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), with our contribution typically focused on landscape patterns and processes (e.g., land-use change) or the drier side of the land-water interaction (e.g., riparian forests).

Read about our research results…

Read more about our current studies…

Landscape sustainability and ecosystem services

Sustainability has long been a theme in ecology and resource management, but the current rate and magnitude of environmental change has led to a resurgence in interest in sustainability science. Assessing, projecting, and managing the flows of ecosystem services (ES) across spatially heterogeneous landscapes is a key challenge in sustainability science. Research in our lab is contributing to research on sustainability and ecosystem services from the perspective of landscape ecology…

Read about our current 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.

Read about our current studies...

ecology journal coversTools and Resources for Landscape Ecology

We have produced several general resources for landscape ecology, including a text book (Turner et al. 2001), an edited volume of exercises designed to provide "hands-on" opportunities for learning the basic quantitative tools used in landscape ecology (Gergel and Turner 2002), and an interactive data base for extracting measures of landscape pattern from throughout the US (METALAND). In addition, volume co-edited by John Wiens, Michael Moss, Monica Turner and David Mladenoff, provides an entrée into the publications that provided the foundation for the development of contemporary landscape ecology. New editions of the landscape ecology text book (Turner and Gardner, in prep) and the “lab manual” (Gergel and Turner, in prep) are forthcoming.

Read more about completed research projects...

Page last updated Wednesday, June 18 2012.