Unity professor to speak on use of data in predicting forest cover

UNITY, Maine – Using predictive models to bring spatial intelligence to forest management decisions is the topic of the first in the 2015-16 Fishbowl colloquium series at Unity College.

Kathleen Dunckel, Assistant Professor for the Center for Natural Resource Management and Protection at Unity College, will give her presentation – “Linking remote sensing and various site factors for predicting the spatial distribution of Eastern hemlock occurrence and relative basal area in Maine” — 11 a.m. until noon Tuesday, Sept. 15 in the Parsons Wing of the Student Activities Center on campus, 90 Quaker Hill Road.

The talk includes free lunch and a coffee discussion in the student center immediately after the discussion.

Infestation and outbreak of the hemlock woolly adelgid along the East Coast has led to widespread loss of hemlock trees and a shift in tree species composition towards hardwood stands. Dunckel said developing an understanding of the geographic distribution of individual species can inform conservation practices that seek to maintain functional capabilities of ecosystems. Modeling is necessary for understanding changes in forest composition, and subsequent changes in biodiversity, and one that can be implemented at the species level.

“By integrating the use of remote sensing, modeling, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) coupled with expert knowledge in forest ecology and disturbance, we can advance the methodologies currently available in the literature on predictive modeling,” she said.

Dunckel began her career as an environmental scientist in the Adirondack Mountains of New York and is pursuing a PhD in Forest Resources at the University of Maine. She holds an MS in Environmental Science form Alaska Pacific University and a BA in Environmental Science from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh.

Dunckel said she began her career as an environmental scientist in the Adirondacks and became attracted to the environmental science field “because it is truly interdisciplinary.”

About Unity College
Unity College proudly celebrates its 50th year in 2015. The first institution of higher education in the nation to divest from fossil fuel investments, Unity is committed to educating the next generation of environmental professionals. Sustainability science lies at the heart of its educational mission, with 16 environmentally focused undergraduate majors. For more information, visit unity.edu.

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