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Kurt Riitters

Research Ecologist & Team Leader
Forestry Sciences Laboratory
3041 Cornwallis Road
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Phone: 919-549-4015

Current Research

  1. Develop new approaches to measure, evaluate and predict landscape and forest spatial patterns and their implications for resource management. Current research focuses on multi-scale approaches from image processing, mathematical morphology, and graph theory.
  2. Conduct regional-to-global scale assessments of landscape patterns including forest fragmentation in support of United States commitments to national and international environmental reporting. Current research supports the United States Resource Planning Act (RPA), the international Montreal Process (MPCI), and various other governmental and non-governmental assessment processes.
  3. Develop approaches to harmonize landscape pattern assessment and management across disciplinary, legal, and scale boundaries. Current research focuses on national and international harmonization of status and trends indicators for forest, range, agriculture, and urban systems estimated from satellite imagery and land-cover maps.

Research Interests

Landscape ecology.

Spatial pattern analysis.

Quantitative ecology.

Past Research

Kurt Riitters is a research ecologist and the team leader of Eastern Threat Center staff located in Research Triangle Park, NC, as well as Adjunct Professor of Forestry at North Carolina State University. 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 forest industry. 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. His current research focus is on national- to global-scale assessments of landscape patterns from remotely sensed land-cover maps, and 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. He is the USDA Forest Service national leader of landscape pattern and forest fragmentation research for the Resource Planning Act (RPA) and Sustainability (Montreal Process) assessments. He serves on the editorial board of the journal Landscape Ecology and is co-director of the Center for Landscape Pattern Analysis. He is past President of the United States Chapter of the International Association for Landscape Ecology, and past Deputy Chairman for North America for the Landscape Ecology Working Group of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations.

Why This Research is Important

The assessments produced by this research satisfy legislated and agency requirements for national and international monitoring and reporting of the status and trends of forest conditions nationwide.

The tools and techniques developed by this research permit satisfying the above goal in a timely and efficient manner.

The basic research in quantitative landscape ecology develops insights to prioritize particular tools and techniques for development.


Ph.D. in Forest Science (Silviculture), 1986
Oregon State University
M.F. in Forest Management, 1978
University of Minnesota
B.E.S. in Elected Studies, 1976
University of Minnesota

Professional Experience

Various, Various

Kurt Riitters' research experience has been with four Federal Agencies and private industry.

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