The Landscape Change Research Group (LCRG) specializes in creating ecological assessments using large amounts of biological, climatic, and terrain data with computer models and geographic information systems (GIS).
The LCRG are research scientists responsible for generating original research and dedicated to creating valuable tools and data sets for resource managers and decision makers. LCRG has provided the NIACS team with research on potential impacts of climate change on the forests of the eastern United States for nearly a decade, and this work is expanding with the LCRG joining NIACS. The integration of LCRG into NIACS facilitates receiving feedback from managers about LCRG products and provides more opportunities to support forest adaptation and inspire new research. LCRG also takes advantage of local opportunities, working directly with scientists and managers to inform land management decisions in Ohio.
"The ecomapping work from LCRG has saved multiple weeks of resource professional time in preparing for management activities within the Wayne National Forest."
- Tony Scardina, Forest Supervisor, Wayne National Forest
LCRG provides applied research necessary to provide insights into understanding and modeling the landscape. In 2018 it led or co-authored 8 journal articles, 2 GTRs and 1 other report, and 2 book chapters; edited one book; and gave 14 scientific presentations. The Climate Change Atlas remains a primary way to make modeling data available to a large audience; it is still among the most-visited sections of the Northern Research Station’s website, with nearly 750,000 page views in 2018.
The LCRG worked intensively with the Wayne National Forest (WNF) and the broader NIACS team as the WNF launched its plan revision. Part of this effort included a successful grant from the USDA Climate Hubs to provide risk mapping for the WNF and all NFs in the East. Additionally, the LCRG has been working closely with the WNF and the Lake Erie Appalachian Partnership (LEAP) in addressing impacts and potential adaptations to a changing climate. The team has also been assisting the Ohio Interagency Forestry Group on ecological mapping of southeastern Ohio for potential to restore oaks and early successional habitat with forest management. LCRG helped update Ecological Subsections within 221E and develop web-maps and a storymap via Forest Service Office of Sustainability and Climate of current and future plant hardiness zones, heat zones, growing degree days, and cumulative drought severity.
The LCRG expects to expand in scope and depth with increasing integration into the NIACS team. The LCRG recently created new models for potential tree habitat changes (DISTRIB II) and potential migration (SHIFT), and are working on packaging model results into reports and updated websites. These will be used for ongoing efforts with LEAP, WNF, and Climate Hubs, as well as upcoming NIACS efforts working with partners. Efforts are underway to model intraspecific environmental heterogeneity of tree populations, and extending the scope of the LCRG’s work to include the full range of eastern tree species across the North American continent. The goal is to incorporate these new data in the Atlas web site, making them available globally. A project with The Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management is nearing completion with data from various provenance studies being used with our climate change models to understand white pine population responses to climate change.