Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Forest and Conservation Science

Department or School/College

W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Carl Seielstad

Commitee Members

LLoyd Queen, David Affleck, Russell Parsons, Dave Opitz


Fire Ecology, Forest Structure, Remote Sensing


University of Montana


Pattern and scale are key to understanding ecological processes. My dissertation research aims for novel quantification of vegetation, fuel, and wildfire patterns at multiple scales and to leverage these data for insights into fire processes. Core to this motivation is the 3-dimensional (3-D) characterization of forest properties from light detection and ranging (LiDAR) and structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry. Analytical methods for extracting useable information currently lag the ability to collect such 3-D data. The chapters that follow focus on this limitation blending interests in machine learning and data science, remote sensing, wildland fuels (vegetation), and wildfire. In Chapter 2, forest canopy structure is characterized from multiple landscapes using LiDAR data and a novel data-driven framework to identify and compare structural classes. Motivations for this chapter include the desire to systematically assess forest structure from landscape to global scales and increase the utility of data collected by government agencies for landscape restoration planning. Chapter 3 endeavors to link 3-D canopy fuels attributes to conventional optical remote sensing data with the goal of extending the reach of laser measurements to the entire western US while exploring geographic differences in LiDAR-Landsat relationships. Development of predictive models and resulting datasets increase accuracy and spatial variation over currently used canopy fuel datasets. Chapters 4 and 5 characterize fire and fuel variability using unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and quantify trends in the influence of fuel patterns on fire processes.



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