FEMC Regional Project

Monitoring and Communicating Changes in Disturbance Regimes


Natural and anthropogenic disturbance regimes play a large role in northeastern forests, in historical and modern contexts. Disturbance patterns in northeastern forests are primarily driven by small scale wind events, pests and pathogens but also include windthrow, fire, drought, floods, severe weather, land use change, deposition and pollution.

This year the FEMC was tasked with synthesizing data region-wide to better understand how disturbance regimes are changing in northeastern forests, streams, lakes, soils, and wildlife, how these changes are connected to climate change, and what monitoring gaps exist to track these changes.

Through this study, key metrics will be identified to better explore and monitor the relationships between climate and disturbance patterns, providing options for sustainable management of forests across the region.

Key Systems and Disturbance Agents

  • Extreme events
  • Fire extent and severity
  • Forest stream macroinvertebrates
  • Cold-water fisheries
  • Deposition and pollution
  • Stream geomorphic condition

Project Quick Facts

Project Contact:
Pia Ruisi-Besares

Start Date:

June 2020

Take Our Survey

Survey Link

Related Links

Northeastern Forest Health Atlas

Project Brief:

Project Goals

  1. Aggregate and archive historical data on disturbance extent and timing from current and historical research, surveys and reports.

    • Quantify historical evidence of disturbance such as insects, diseases, extreme events, droughts and fires by analyzing the content of past annual forest health reports developed by states and the USDA Forest Service .
    • Expand historical record insect and disease disturbance in the Northeastern Forest Health Atlas.
    • Assess trends over time across the full region specific to the most common disturbance agents and newer agents of special concern.
    • Develop easy-to-use datasets summarizing historical trends and, where possible, spatial extents of key disturbance agents and responses to disturbance.
      • Historical and predicted data on extreme events.
      • Spatial and temporal data on deposition and pollution patterns.
      • Data on fire extent and severity
      • Forest stream macroinvertebrates that are sensitive to scouring from high flows.
      • Cold-water fisheries that are sensitive to rising stream temperatures.
      • Stream geomorphic condition from state and federal assessments.
  2. Expand the Northeastern Forest Health Atlas with additional disturbance regimes and a longer temporal record .

    Develop data visualization and information access tools to capture temporal trends and spatial extent, allowing users to explore changing extent of a subset of disturbance types. This may include a map of historical data with an overlay of the trend over time for the region and locations of existing monitoring programs. This will include:

    • Expanding and updating the Northeastern Forest Health Atlas with synthesis maps on key disturbance types. Overlay figures of temporal trends in wind, defoliation / mortality, flooding, pathogens and historical spatial information from the forest health reports
    • map historical flood data with overlay of regional hydrological data on flood extent, high flows and temporal data on fish and macroinvertebrate populations
    • Create way to explore model methods for tracking changes in disturbance regimes and example implementations.
  3. Develop data visualization and information access tools to capture temporal trends and spatial extent, allowing users to explore changing extent of a subset of disturbance types.

  4. Develop easy to use datasets summarizing historical trends and, where possible, spatial extents of key disturbance agents and responses to disturbance.

  5. Comprehensive report on the trends observed in the data, gaps in monitoring, recommendations to state and federal land managers to guide data collection and study moving forward, and model monitoring methods for tracking change in disturbance.

Get Involved!

Take our survey

Consider taking a few minutes to share your knowledge and expertise about forest disturbance patterns, impacts and climate implications.

Do you have forest disturbance data?

Consider contributing datasets to help increase the depth and utility of this project. Contact project coordinator Pia Ruisi-Besares

Connect us with potential collaborators

If you know others who might have data or interest in this project, reach out to them about this project or help us connect with them

Interested in utilizing this aggregation of data?

Join our advisory committee or contribute ideas for synthesis to guide our efforts and provide expert interpretation of how regimes are changing.


Acknowledgments

This project is possible due to long-term funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service State & Private Forestry, the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and the University of Vermont.