News Release

Kurt Riitters Honored with the 2019 Distinguished Landscape Ecologist Award

April 10, 2019

On April 9, 2019, USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station Research Ecologist Kurt Riitters was named the 2019 Distinguished Landscape Ecologist by the U.S. Chapter of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (US-IALE) at their annual meeting held in Fort Collins, CO.

The award recognizes individuals whose thinking and writing have helped to shape the field of landscape ecology and it is the highest honor bestowed by the US-IALE.

Emilee P. Blount, Director, Engineering, Technology and Geospatial Services, Jason Anderson and Lenise Lago, Deputy Chief, Business Operations.
Kurt Riitters, Research Ecologist & Team Leader (U.S. Forest Service photo)

Riitters is a past president of US-IALE (2012–2014), and he has served on several committees as an active member for the past two decades. He could not be present to accept the award, but says "I am honored to be recognized as a Distinguished Landscape Ecologist, and very pleased to know that my research has made important contributions to the science of landscape ecology."

He is currently the team leader of the Eastern Threat Center staff located in Research Triangle Park, NC, and an Adjunct Professor of Forestry at North Carolina State University. He has authored more than 85 peer-reviewed journal articles (along with 100+ Forest Service and other agency reports, book chapters, etc.) and has received awards for pioneering research in landscape ecology. 

In addition to landscape ecology, his research interests include spatial pattern analysis, quantitative ecology, and national- to global-scale assessments of landscape patterns from remotely sensed land-cover maps. His work has appeared in many environmental reports including the Millennium Assessment, the Official Atlas of the United States, and the State of the Nation's Ecosystems.

Riitters received his Ph.D. in Forest Science from Oregon State University in 1986 and his master's in Forest Management from the University of Minnesota in 1978. He joined the USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring Program in 2000 after fifteen years of research in quantitative forest ecology and management, monitoring, and assessment with three Federal agencies and in the forest industry.

The US-IALE fosters landscape ecology in the U.S. and promotes interdisciplinary research and communication among scientists, planners, and other professionals concerned with landscape ecology.

For more information, email Kurt Riitters at