Landscape Ecology Meeting Draws Forest Service Scientists and Record Attendance

US-IALE President Janet Franklin (third from left) recognized the efforts of meeting organizers from the Eastern Threat Center (left to right: Bill Hargrove, Kurt Riitters, Danny Lee, Stephanie Worley Firley, and Steve Norman) during the US-IALE awards banquet. Photo by Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman, University of Georgia.
US-IALE President Janet Franklin (third from left) recognized the efforts of meeting organizers from the Eastern Threat Center (left to right: Bill Hargrove, Kurt Riitters, Danny Lee, Stephanie Worley Firley, and Steve Norman) during the US-IALE awards banquet. Photo by Jeffrey Hepinstall-Cymerman, University of Georgia.

After more than a year of planning, local organizers from the U.S. Forest Service Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center were thrilled to finally welcome attendees of the annual meeting of the U.S. International Association for Landscape Ecology (US-IALE), held last month in Asheville, North Carolina. It was the 29th annual and the largest ever US-IALE annual meeting, drawing approximately 500 professionals (including about 40 Forest Service scientists) and students from 22 countries and 42 states.

The meeting explored topics of concern to the Forest Service and partners related to a “Landscape Change” theme and offered attendees a place to share, critique, and strengthen ideas for an all-lands approach to research and management. Hundreds of presentations, dozens of posters and live demonstrations, and several training workshops fostered discussion and learning. Six scientific excursions allowed exploration of environmental and social issues associated with landscape change in and around Asheville. A Forest Service Research and Development exhibit featured the faces of landscape science in the agency, along with information about scientists’ wide-ranging projects and interests.

“I think that what makes the annual US-IALE meeting so great is that it is attended by people who believe that the best science comes from the overlaps in scientific subjects — the intersection between multiple disciplines,” says Bill Hargrove, a research ecologist with the Eastern Threat Center and chair of the meeting’s organizing committee. “Because of their common interests, meeting attendees engage in deeper attempts at cross-disciplinary thinking, bridging vocabulary and terminology across subjects. This is one of the unique aspects of the annual US-IALE meeting and why it has been my favorite meeting to attend over the last three decades.”

Eastern Threat Center research ecologists Kurt Riitters and Steve Norman, Center Director Danny Lee, and biological science information specialist Stephanie Worley Firley also helped to organize the meeting’s program on behalf of US-IALE.

The Forest Service has a long history of membership and support for US-IALE, though this is only the second time the agency has played a key role in organizing the annual meeting. Three Forest Service scientists have served as US-IALE President, including Riitters, who says, “The US-IALE annual meeting is an ideal opportunity to broaden one’s perspective and make new connections – to deliver on the promise of ecology as an interdisciplinary science.” The next opportunity to get involved comes when university colleagues and the host city of Baltimore welcome attendees to the US-IALE annual meeting in April 2017.

For more information, email Bill Hargrove at whargrove@fs.fed.us.

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