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Christopher M. Swan »
Junmei Tang »
Claire Welty »


David Lansing

Calculating Carbon: Expertise and Power in the Creation of Carbon Forestry Offsets

project 1This project examines the social relations of power, knowledge, and technology that are involved in establishing carbon offsets among indigenous smallholders in Costa Rica. It examines how complex agricultural practices are interpreted by scientists and economists in the process of creating a carbon “price tag” for land use changes, and the resulting impacts of this process on indigenous land use and livelihoods.

Funding: Social Science Research Council
IIE Fulbright

Understanding the Effectiveness of Ecosystem Service Payments: An Analysis of the Conditions of Additionality Among Smallholders in Costa Rica

project 2This project examines the effectiveness of Costa Rica’s long–running payments for ecosystem services program among smallholders. It does so by testing whether state payments are producing additional forest cover or subsidizing status quo patterns of reforestation. It also examines the role of various other state institutions in encouraging forms of fallow management in ways that create potential sites where PES can be additional. Doing so, this project contextualizes PES outcomes within historically and geographically complex state–peasant relationships.

Funding: National Science Foundation
Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research


Junmei Tang

The Analysis of Spatial–Temporal Dynamics of Urban Landscape Structure: A Comparison of Two Petroleum-Oriented Cities

project 3This research project developed a fuzzy cellular automata model based on the subpixel fractions extracted from multitemporal satellite images and discusses the relationship between sophisticated remote sensing techniques and an urban process model within the socioeconomic dimension. The major objectives include incorporating the subpixel membership derived from remote sensing images into fuzzy cellular automata model and calibrate this subcell urban landscape models.

Funding: UMBC Internal Funding: Summer Faculty Fellowships (SFF)

Threatened Urban Green Places: A Gradient Analysis of Economic and Ecological Values of Greenness in Baltimore-Washington Corridor Area

project 4This research project identified economic and ecological function of urban greenness and to examine how they changed during the urbanization in Baltimore-Washington corridor area in recent 20 years. We investigated the vegetation pattern and change, identify the role of urbanization in the change of biophysical parameter of urban tree through field measurement and advanced remote sensing techniques.

Funding: UMBC Internal Funding: Summer Faculty Fellowships (SFF)

Collaborators: Stuart S. Schwartz, faculty
Weibing Wang, student

Moving Beyond Structural Heterogeneity and Process Complexity in an Agricultural Watershed: An Integrative Social-Ecological-Hydrological Framework

project 5This research project will integrate research and education activities that investigate socioeconomic development, biogeophysical conditions, ecological dynamics and hydrological process to explore the trajectories of nutrient transportation in agricultural watersheds. The work will analyze how these processes impact the heterogeneous structure and complex process of the basin in agricultural settings.

Funding: NSF, pending.

Collaborator: Weibing Wang, student

Satellite–Derived Mechanism Studies on Socioeconomic Development, Urban Land Use, and Climate Change in the Urbanized United States: An Interdisciplinary Social-Ecological-Atmospheric Framework

project 6The principal objective of this proposal is to develop an interdisciplinary framework to incorporate the multiple NASA satellite images to systematically study the land surface process and its impact on the carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission in the highly urbanized area of the United States.

Collaborators: Jianwu Tang (Marine Biology Laboratory), faculty
Qianlai Zhang (Purdue University), faculty


Dawn Biehler

Community environmental management, mosquito control, and environmental justice

project 7In collaboration with vector ecologists and public health scholars at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and University of Maryland, College Park, this project examines community participation in control of mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus. UMBC researchers conduct community meetings and focus groups and facilitate data collection by citizen–scientists.

Funding: pending

Collaborators: Takiya Louers, student


Claire Welty

Regional Climate Variability and Patterns of Urban Development – Impacts on the Urban Water Cycle and Nutrient Export (1/1/11-12/31/15)

project 8The goal of this project is to evaluate interactions between urban development patterns and the hydrologic cycle and associated nutrient cycles, within the context of regional and local climate variability. Our specific objective is to create a modeling system capable of simulating the feedback relationships that control urban water sustainability.

Funding: NSF Water Sustainability and Climate Program. Total project budget $5,000,000; UMBC budget $1,400,000.

Collaborators: Andrew J. Miller, faculty

Michael McGuire (Towson), faculty

Elie Bou-Zeid (Princeton), faculty

James Smith (Princeton), faculty

Elena Irwin (Ohio State), faculty

Peter Groffman (Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies), faculty

Sujay Kaushal (University of Maryland-College Park), faculty

Art Gold (URI), faculty

Charles Towe (Penn State), faculty

Allen Klaiber (University of Maryland-Colege Park), faculty

Morgan Grove (U.S. Forest Service), faculty

Ed Doheny (U.S. Geological Survey), faculty

Dynamic Coupling of the Water Cycle with Patterns of Urban Growth (9/1/07-8/31/11, currently in no-cost extension)

project 9This project links an urban growth model (SLEUTH) with a fully–coupled, physically–based three–dimensional hydrologic model (PARFLOW–CLM) to evaluate the effects of growth on water availability and limits to water supply using the Baltimore metropolitan region as a case study.

Additional work involves investigation of the relationship between ages and patterns of urban development and watershed hydrologic response to storm events.

Project Site: http://userpages.umbc.edu/~weltyc/biocomplexity.html

Funding: NSF Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program. Total project budget $1,400,000; UMBC budget $853,646.

Collaborators: Andrew J. Miller, faculty

Bernadette Hanlon (formerly UMBC, now Ohio State), faculty

Michael McGuire (formerly UMBC, now Towson), faculty

James A. Smith (Princeton), faculty

Mary Lynn Baeck (Princeton), faculty

Claire Jantz (Shippensburg), faculty

Scott Drzyzga (Shippensburg), faculty

Reed Maxwell (Colorado School of Mines), faculty

Ed Doheny (U.S. Geological Survey), faculty

Garth Lindner (Geography and Environmental Systems), graduate research assistant

Aditi Bhaskar (Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering), graduate research assistant


Steward Pickett

Baltimore Ecosystem Study, Ecological Research Phase III: Adapative Processes in the Baltimore Socio-Ecological System – From the Sanitary to the Sustainable City (11/1/10-10/31/16)

project 10The third phase of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study builds on 13 years of experience in establishing a platform for integrated urban ecological and social research, education, and outreach. BES III takes advantage of the growing shift of urban areas toward sustainability policies, and the need to scientifically understand and evaluate the adaptive processes proposed to promote urban sustainability.

Project Site: http://www.beslter.org/

Funding: NSF Long–Term Ecological Research Program. Total project budget $5,640,000. Miller subcontract $30,000.

Collaborators: For co–PIs see project site.

Colleen Gardina, undergraduate research assistant

Brad Borowy, undergraduate research assistant


Andrew J. Miller

Assessment of stream restoration impacts on urban sediment load and comparison with TMDL guidelines

DR5This is a new project beginning July 2014, evaluating sediment yield from a set of nested watersheds within the Dead Run watershed, a tributary of Gwynns Falls, the main study watershed of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study. We have been working in Dead Run for the last decade and we have streamflow monitoring data going back to 2008; this project will allow us to use data from turbidity sensors, together with suspended-sediment concentrations, to quantify sediment loads and yields at multiple watershed scales and to assess pre- and post-restoration sediment loads and yields from a headwater watershed that is slated for a major stream restoration project just upstream from one of our gages.

Funding: Chesapeake Bay Trust (July 1, 2014 – March 31, 2016); co-PI, Claire Welty

Other funded projects:

Quantifying remobilization rates of legacy sediment from Maryland Piedmont floodplains (Maryland Water Resources Research Center; July 1, 2012 – June 30, 2013)

County mapThis project supported Mitchell Donovan’s M.S. thesis work, which involved comparison of high-resolution topographic maps from the late 1950′s and early 1960′s with 2005 lidar to measure channel migration rates and remobilization of sediment from floodplain storage from 25 streams across the rural watersheds of Baltimore County, including 14 with mill dams and 11 without mill dams. Mitchell was able to quantify volume and mass of erosion, including the proportion attributable to historical “legacy” sediment, and was also able to quantify the relative importance of contributions from mill-dam deposits by comparison with floodplain sediment sources not associated with mill dams.

Implications of restoration design for hydrologic response in urban streams (Maryland Sea Grant Graduate Fellowship, awarded to Garth Lindner; January 13, 2013 – August 31, 2014)

Collaborative Research: Regional Climate Variability and Patterns of Urban Development – Impacts on the Urban Water Cycle and Nutrient Transport  (NSF Water Sustainability and Climate Program; January 1, 2011 – December 31, 2015) ; with Claire Welty, UMBC (PI) and co-PIs from Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Princeton University, Ohio State University, Penn State University, University of Maryland – College Park, University of Rhode Island, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service

project 8The goal of this project is to evaluate interactions between urban development patterns and the hydrologic cycle and associated nutrient cycles, within the context of regional and local climate variability. Our specific objective is to create a modeling system capable of simulating the feedback relationships that control urban water sustainability.

Funding: NSF Water Sustainability and Climate Program. Total project budget $5,000,000; UMBC budget $1,400,000.

Collaborators: Andrew J. Miller, faculty

Michael McGuire (Towson), faculty

Elie Bou-Zeid (Princeton), faculty

James Smith (Princeton), faculty

Elena Irwin (Ohio State), faculty

Peter Groffman (Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies), faculty

Sujay Kaushal (University of Maryland-College Park), faculty

Art Gold (URI), faculty

Charles Towe (Penn State), faculty

Allen Klaiber (University of Maryland-Colege Park), faculty

Morgan Grove (U.S. Forest Service), faculty

Ed Doheny (U.S. Geological Survey), faculty

Baltimore Ecosystem Study, Ecological Research Phase III: Adapative Processes in the Baltimore Socio-Ecological System – From the Sanitary to the Sustainable City ( NSF LTER Program; November 1, 2010 to October 31, 2016;  PI: S. Pickett)


Jeff Halverson

High–Impact Meteorology and Weather Hazards in the Washington–Baltimore Urban Corridor

project 12This is a study of lightning frequency mapped to the physiographically diverse landscape of Chesapeake Bay – urban corridor – Blue Ridge mountains, using a high resolution lightning detection and mapping system. The goal is to ascertain whether lightning intensity is related to the anthropogenic landscape, through generation of local meteorological boundaries and/or high concentration of air pollutants.

Project Site: http://umbcstormpage.blogspot.com/

Collaborators: Aaron Poyer, Ph.D candidate (Halverson)

Factors Leading to Intensity Change in Tropical Cyclones

project 13Hurricane intensity change remains poorly forecast, compared to track and landfall location. For decades, NASA has used a combination of satellites and high altitude research aircraft to study the physics of tropical cyclones, with the goal of better understanding the genesis and rapid intensification of Atlantic basin storms. Our research examines the relationship between eye wall thunderstorms, intense lightning and the warm core of the storm’s eye.

Photo shows: Inner core structure of Hurricane Earl (2010) showing cloud top temperature (left panels), rain intensity (middle panels) and lightning strike locations (right panels).

Project Site: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hurricanes/bios/halverson_bio.html

Collaborators: Owen Kelley, faculty
Gerry Heymsfield, faculty
Scott Braun (NASA), faculty
Janel Thomas, MS Candidate (Halverson)
Alexandra St. Pe, MS Candidate (Halverson)

Heavy Precipitation and Flooding in the Appalachians Arising From Mesoscale and Synoptic Scale Storms

project 14Flash floods are a leading source of mortality and property damage in the U.S. This research investigates the special vulnerability of the Appalachians to periodic floods arising from local thunderstorms, and also large-scale disturbances such as Nor’easters and post–tropical disturbances (tropical storms and hurricanes).

Photo shows: Contours of heavy rainfall mapped to steep terrain and debris flows across central Nelson County during Hurricane Camille (1969).

Project Site: http://umbcstormpage.blogspot.com/

Collaborators: Thomas Rabenhorst, faculty

Andrew Miller, faculty

Janel Thomas, student

Alexandra St. Pe, student

Laura Merner, student

Dan Jones, student

Matthew Panunto, student

Garth Linder, student


Margaret Buck Holland

Land Tenure, Deforestation & Environmental Governance in Ecuador

project 15This research focuses on the influence of land tenure on forest change across areas critical for ecosystem services in the Amazon. We communicate these results to improve targeting of Ecuador’s ecosystem services incentive program, SocioBosque. The next phase of this research will be to evaluate the socioeconomic impacts of SocioBosque.

Funding: Original funding for this research has been provided by: USAID’s Translinks Program, the Land Tenure Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Conservation International.

Collaborators: Lisa Naughton–Treves, PhD – University of Wisconsin–Madison
Luis Suárez – Conservación Internacional, Ecuador
Free de Koning, PhD – Conservación Internacional, Ecuador
Manolo Morales – Ecolex, Ecuador
Susana Lastarria, PhD – University of Wisconsin–Madison
Brian Robinson, PhD – University of Minnesota
Kelly Wendland, PhD – University of Idaho

Legacies of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor

project 16We are assessing the relative impact of trans–boundary conservation efforts related to the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (MBC) in Central America. Our goal with this project is to identify the achievements the MBC enabled in the region related toenvironmental policy and governance from the local to regional scale.

Funding: Conservation International and UMBC’s URAS award

Collaborators: Celia Harvey, PhD – Conservation International

Lauren Kelly, IEG – World Bank

Tyler McCafferty, UMBC (URAS award recipient) (Fall 2011 – Spring 2012)

Kelley Mason, UMBC (Spring 2012)


Sandy Parker

The History and Evolution of State and Federal Parks and Forest Reserves

project 17Research is focused on the evolution of public lands in the United States with particular interest in the role the federal government played in the establishment of state park and forest lands in the 20th century. In part, the research explores the tension between conservation and preservation in the early to mid 20th century.


Christopher M. Swan

Community Assembly in Riverine Networks

project 18We are studying stream restoration practice as a foundation to understand how spatial position in river networks mediates the relative role of local (e.g., habitat features) and regional (e.g., dispersal) factors drive local species composition, and turnover in composition across stream reaches.

Funding: National Science Foundation, $600,000 (DEB-1026086)

Collaborators: Matthew Baker, faculty

Bryan Brown (Virginia Tech), faculty

Tara Willey, student

Socio–Economic Constraints on Community Assembly in Urban Ecosystems

project 19Traditional ecological theory cannot completely explain species coexistence in urban ecosystems. In an effort aid decision-makers in their development of sustainability plans, we are taking both survey and experimental approaches to look at the coupled ecological and socioeconomic factors that generate plant biodiversity at multiple spatial scales in Baltimore.

Funding: NSF-LTER

Collaborators: Anna Johnson, student

Local Versus Regional Constraints on Species Coexistence in Novel Habitats

project 20Management of urban stormwater detention ponds involve meeting multiple goals, including reducing runoff, attenuating stormflow, and in residential contexts, aesthetics. Since these features are rapidly replacing wetlands in the built environment, we are investigating the ecological structure and function of these novel habitats compared to their native counterparts.

Funding: NSF-LTER

Collaborators: Bryan Brown (Virginia Tech), faculty

Kate Brundrett, student


Erle Ellis

GLOBE: Evolving New Global Workflows for Land Change Science

project 21GLOBE aims to transform land change science by creating new global scientific workflows that integrate local–, regional– and global–scale researchers, expertise and data based their global relevance using an online collaboration environment leveraging social–computational algorithms and real–time quantitative global and statistical visualization.

Project Site: http://globe.umbc.edu

Funding: NSF Grant: CNS 1125210

Collaborators: Tim Oates, faculty

Tim Finin, faculty

Wayne Lutters, faculty

Penny Rheingans, faculty

Anita Komlodi, faculty

Matt Schmill, faculty

Nick Magliocca, student

Ecosynth: 3D Ecological Mapping Using Computer Vision

project 22Ecosynth is a system that ecologists can use to make 3D scans of vegetation structure and potentially species at their own study sites at a relatively low cost. This approach uses computer vision software to enable personal, user–based remote measurement of ecosystems comparable to what can be accomplished with satellite or airplane based technology, but with the use of off-the-shelf digital cameras and low to high grade hobbyist remote controlled aircraft.

Project Site: http://ecotope.org/ecosynth/

Funding: US Forest Service

Collaborators: Marc Olano, faculty

Geoffrey Parker, faculty

Jonathan Dandois, student

Anthromes: Building a Human Framework for Ecology & Earth Science

project 23Humans have become primary global shapers of ecosystem form, process, and biodiversity, on a par with the forces of climate and geology. The Anthromes Working Group aims to investigate, understand and model human transformation and management of the terrestrial biosphere based on the concept of Anthromes (Anthropogenic Biomes) as a new paradigm for incorporating human systems into global ecology and earth science research and education for the Anthropocene.

Project Site: http://ecotope.org/anthromes


Matthew Baker

Thresholds in Aquatic Communities in Response to Ex-Urbanization and Environmental Change

project 24Biotic consequences of watershed urbanization are typically assessed using space-for-time substitutions. We are building a 25-year ‘space-time stack’ of impervious surface expansion in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area from satellite imagery and seeking evidence of coincident chemical and biotic changes in stream monitoring data across more than 100 sampling locations.

Funding: MD SeaGrant $87,000

Collaborators: Joseph Sexton, faculty

Haley Martin, MS student

Matthew Schley, BS student

New Analytical Approaches for Detecting Community Response to Environmental Gradients

project 26Many anthropogenic activities that degrade aquatic communities are correlated in space and time. We are developing a multivariate approach for detecting fish community responses to stream flow alteration in Massachusetts that will help distinguish the confounding effects of impervious surface, water sourcing, and thermal gradients throughout the state.

Funding: US Geological Survey, US Environmental Protection Agency, MA Dept. Fish and Game

Collaborators: David Armstrong, faculty

The Role of Riparian Hydrology and Geomorphology in Contributing to Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions (USDA-CSREES)

project 27Depending on their hydrologic dynamics, wetlands that are excellent water quality filters may also produce large amounts of greenhouse gasses. As part of understanding the biogeochemical contributions of these ecosystems across central Indiana, we are examining the effect of river valley segment sequencing on the hydroperiod of large river floodplains.

Funding: USDA-CSREES $398,000

Collaborators: Pierre Jacinthe, faculty

Philippe Vidon, faculty

Matthew Panunto, MS student

Assessment of Ecosystem Condition and Climate Change in Grand Teton National Park (NPS)

project 28Understanding the impact of climate change on relatively pristine National Parks involves understanding both regional trends in temperature and precipitation as well as their effect on landscape dynamics. We investigated departures from long term regional climatic trends in Grand Teton NP to identify potential biophysical consequences for its iconic landscape.

Funding: US Park Service $100,000

Collaborators: Doug Ramsey, faculty
Jack Schmidt, faculty

A Strategic Planning Tool For Targeted Buffer Restoration and Enhanced Riparian Stewardship

project 29Riparian buffers, forest or wetland between human activity and stream channels, can be effective at filtering upslope nutrient discharges in agricultural landscapes. We developed a new set of analytical tools that use land cover, topography, and stream maps to measure buffer width across any landscape and prioritize conservation and restoration activity.

Project Site: http://ches.communitymodeling.org/models.php

Funding: NOAA CICEET $306,000

Collaborators: Pablo Vigliano, faculty

Nicolaas Bouwes, faculty

Luciana Barone, PhD student

Biophysical Controls On Invasion Success in Low-Productivity Environments: Exotic Trout in Andean Patagonia

project 30Over the past 100 years, several species of exotic trout have been introduced to a large, ultra-oligotrophic Andean lake. However, surveys suggests that these species have differentially and unevenly colonized many tributaries. Our research seeks to understand how ecological and physical processes contribute to observed distributions and their evolutionary consequences.

Project Site: http://ches.communitymodeling.org/models.php

Funding: Argentinian National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET)

Collaborators: Donald Weller, faculty

Thomas Jordan, faculty

Molly Van Appledorn, MS student

Controls on Floodplain Forest Community Assembly in Lower Michigan

project 31River floodplain forests are known for their dynamic environments and diverse species assemblages. We are using novel geographic analysis, observational study, and experimental approaches to understand the role of environmental filtering and meta-community dynamics across a range of hydrologic and geomorphic contexts throughout Lower Michigan.

Collaborators: Molly Van Appledorn, PhD student