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Understanding the landscape-level interactions between land use, disturbances, and natural vegetation dynamics is critical for projecting the future impacts of global change in forest ecosystems. In particular, shifts in the juxtaposition of remnant forests and human activities such as agriculture and development may exacerbate the effects of climate change on fire regimes, and in some cases can push landscapes past tipping points resulting in radical shifts to new ecosystem states. Professor Wimberly will present examples of these phenomena from research on fire-prone landscapes in temperate forests of western North America and tropical forests of West Africa. He will also provide an overview of the Coupled Human and Natural Geospatial Environments (CHANGE) model, a landscape change simulator that couples projections of forest land use change due to agriculture and urbanization with simulations of fire regimes and forest succession.
Mike Wimberly is a Professor of Natural Resource Management and a Senior Scientist in the Geospatial Sciences Center of Excellence at South Dakota State University. He applies satellite remote sensing, spatial statistics, and ecological models to conduct research on the impacts of climate and land use change on ecosystems and human health.