Research Awards and Grants (July 2019)

Check out some of our recent research awards and grants:


Title: Improving Scenarios of Future Patterns of Urbanization, Climate Adaptation, and Landscape Changes in the Southeast

PI: Ross Meentemeyer

Direct Sponsor:  US Geological Survey

Amount Awarded: $323,040

Abstract: The conversion of land from non-urban and rural uses to urban, and highly modified uses, is arguably the most direct, intense, and long-lasting modification of habitats that can be made by humans (Theobald, 2013). Simulating these evolving patterns in areas experiencing substantial population growth and urbanization can assist natural resource managers in adaptive planning efforts (Terando et al., 2014; Dorning et al., 2015). This is especially relevant in the Southeast U.S., where a favorable winter climate has led to large influxes of people from other areas of the country over the past several decades (Rappaport, 2007). However, the Southeast is also a region that is highly exposed to the effects of climate change, particularly along the coast and other low-lying areas which contain 27% of the region’s total population. Recent modeling studies have called attention to the potential for coastal sea level rise (SLR) to act as a push factor that would drive residents from the coast to less risky inland locations at higher elevation (Hauer, 2017; McAlpine & Porter, 2018). These and other studies however, in focusing on the push factors along the coast, have to date not considered spatially-explicit outcomes of population redistribution and have not considered the degree to which existing external pull factors (e.g. economic and environmental amenities) of regional growth into the Southeast will affect future urbanization patterns. Here we will build on prior demographic and land change modeling efforts by developing state-of-the-science spatially-explicit scenarios of urbanization patterns in the Southeastern U.S. Our approach will tackle this problem by explicitly accounting for the strength of two potentially counteracting forces: 1) regional out-migration and internal redistribution driven by increasing coastal and low-lying areas at risk due to climate change, and 2) regional in-migration that historically has been driven by climate amenities, but is also potentially amplified through economic growth in southern metropolitan areas. The resulting urban change scenarios will allow natural resource decision makers to visualize and anticipate hotspots of urbanization and population movement across the region through the end of the century.


Title: Assessment at Early Stage on the use of BioBulk to Upgrade Furnish Properties Focused on Consumer Insights

PI: Ronalds Gonzalez

Direct Sponsor: Lignetics, Inc

Amount Awarded: $50,000

Abstract: The use of bio-bulk is proposed as a bio-based additive to considerably upgrade furnish properties for the manufacturing of hygiene tissue. Preliminary lab analyses show that by adding 4% of bio-bulk to tissue furnish, softness and bulk can increase by 15% and 12% respectively. As softness and bulk are important drivers for price on the shelf for hygiene tissue products, herein we propose a research project to evaluate the use of bio-bulk to upgrade tissue furnish, estimate the impact on final product price and develop the data set needed to file invention disclosure and patents. Our preliminary and conservative estimation values bio-bulk at ca. $4,000 per ton.


Title: Free-Ranging and Feral Cats in National Parks: Development of Park Management Strategies for Stakeholder Engagement

PI: Jason Delborne

Direct Sponsor: US National Park Service

Amount Awarded: $48,489

Abstract:  The overall project goals are twofold: The first goal is to provide an engagement framework that park managers can use to understand and navigate challenges surrounding free-ranging cats. The engagement framework will be based on the findings from this work and will outline a set of best practices for pursuing engagement with communities and stakeholders for addressing management challenges surrounding free-ranging cats. The second goal is to provide an analysis of the free-ranging cat management context for 1 or 2 specific national parks so as to help prepare the site for future local engagement. This analysis will provide essential information, such as an examination of free-ranging cat management challenges, free-ranging cat history, and the diversity of stakeholder views. This project will involve an ongoing collaborative planning process between NPS officials and project researchers.


Title: Evaluation of the Lowcountry Sustainable Forestry African American Land Retention Program

PI: Louie Rivers

Direct Sponsor: Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation

Amount Awarded: $34,000

Abstract: To conduct an evaluation of the Lowcountry Sustainable Forestry African American Land Retention Program, partially funded by the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA), to document the effectiveness of the program and the network that has been created to deliver services.


Title: Wood Supply Assessment in North Carolina: Examining Market Dynamics, Resources Availability and Sustainability

PI: Rajan Parajuli

Direct Sponsor: NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services

Amount Awarded: $79,028

Abstract: This project will assess the timber resource availability and sustainability in North Carolina. We will assess historical trends in forest land-use changes and resource inventory in survey units in North Carolina using the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) dataset. Based on the current state of timber supply and demand, project annual timber inventory, removals, and prices by species types and grades using the Sub-Regional Timber Supply (SRTS) model. The projection analyses will be for the entire state, FIA survey units, and specific wood-basket regions. This project will also estimate demand and supply models of hardwood and softwood pulpwood markets for two micro-markets in North Carolina, and evaluate the impact of emergence of wood pellets industry in pulpwood stumpage. Based on the estimated market-specific price elasticity values, update the SRTS model (new elasticity values and 2017 TPO data) and examine the pulpwood resource sustainability in North Carolina micro-markets. We will also assess the hardwood resource availability and sustainability in North Carolina from a mills’ perspective; conduct sensitivity analyses to refine just accessible hardwood resources and their sustainable uses; identify the major hotspots where new forest-based industries could be best positioned to sustainably utilize forest resource feedstock for different products in North Carolina; and use a Hot Spot Analysis tool—available in ArcGIS—which calculates the Getis-Ord (GI) statistics in each FIA plot, taking into account the woody resources in its surrounding plots.


Title: Trajectories of Ecosystem Recovery in Coastal Wetlands under a Changing Climate: Connecting the Dots with Student Research, Citizen Science, and Classroom Data

PI: Marcelo Ardon Sayao

Direct Sponsor: National Science Foundation

Amount Awarded: $30,116

Abstract: Altered hydrologic regimes in the lower Roanoke River (RR) on the Coastal Plain of North Carolina have caused artificially extended seasonal floods in riparian bottomland hardwood (BLH) forested wetlands over the last 70 years. These altered flows are largely due to dam construction and management, and have replaced previously flashy hydrology. It is expected that extended flooding duration has caused shifts in BLH forest composition and loss of biodiversity in the RR basin, including widespread mortality, and transitions from mature forests to an alternative shrub-dominated state. Our primary goal for the proposed research is to assess the long-term compositional changes in bottomland forest ecosystems in the Roanoke River floodplains caused by increasingly persistent and frequent flooding events prior to 2016.


Title: WholeGarment® Knitting of Military Clothing with Bite Protection against Mosquitoes and Other Arthropods

PI: Andre West

Direct Sponsor: US Army

Amount Awarded: $864,630

Abstract: Vector-borne diseases have had a devastating impact on the readiness of combat troops. Due to the increased exposure through training and operations outdoors, deployed military personnel are often at greater risk of receiving arthropod bites than common populations. Presently, the military uses chemical treatments (primarily permethrin) to prevent exposure to vector-borne diseases. The chemical bonding on knitted fabric is not as successful as with wovens and under normal operational conditions, these measures often result in incomplete protection. Mosquito resistance to existing pyrethroid chemistries is problematic in some areas of military operations. In addition, military personnel are concerned that exposure to pyrethroid treatments have adverse effects on their health or that of their family members. Therefore, vector control and personal protection strategies are still of critical importance in ensuring the operational readiness of armed forces. There is an urgent need to develop an alternative effective bite-resistant system, which is more effective to insecticide-resistant mosquitoes and other arthropods, reducing the potential hazard for human health. This technology is also transferable to the private sector. Traditional domestic (Berry Act compliant) conventional knitting, cutting, and sewing of military garments are labor-intensive, time-consuming, and waste-producing processes. Production of wearable bite-resistant military clothing often takes as long as six weeks for the knitting/weaving of textiles and two to four more weeks for production of garments and potentially far longer in the private sector. The garment seams can be the weakest link in the garment construction, causing seam breakage or slippage thereby allowing an easier entry path for vector insects. Furthermore, a traditionally sewed garment with bulky seams often deforms when stretched and can cause skin abrasion. Structural instability as well as mechanical degradation of the seam areas will affect bite-protection capability of the garment prototypes, especially in the area of stretched shoulder seams. Achieving an accurate fit can also be difficult in a cut and sew process because garment sizes are averaged and not based on actual measurements which often produces garments with poor fit. Military personnel need garments that are more accurately sized, providing a comfortable fit for which WholeGarment® knitting is ideal. Wholegarment® knitting machines directly produce an entire three-dimensional garment without sewing that allows for new design opportunities not available with traditional cut and sew methods. Conventional combat clothing developed by major consumer brands over the last few years lack the functionality the military needs (Figure 2). Current knitting design programming technology and Wholegarment® machines are capable of rapid prototyping with multiple yarns and complex stitch patterns. The seamlessness of these knitted garments eliminate seams that can fail, chaff or bind, and reduce movement, thus offering comfort and fit that cannot be rendered in a cut and sew garment. Therefore, Wholegarment® knitting technology offers opportunities to address the limitations of cut and sew garment production, reducing time to market, labor needs, material costs, and energy needs with lower production minimums at the same time making a more sustainable, longer lasting, higher quality product.


Title: Assessing the Transferability of a Historic Resources Decision Support Model for Optimized Budget Allocation and Adaptation Planning

PI: Erin Seekamp

Direct Sponsor: US National Park Service

Amount Awarded: $116,753

Abstract: This research project is a collaborative study with the National Park Service to communicate and expand decision guidance for budget optimization and adaptation planning. The study will expand a decision support framework for cultural resource adaptation to archaeological sites and test the framework for making prioritization decisions at a minimum of one National Park Service site with vulnerable cultural resources.


Title: Using Fine Scale GPS Technology to Research Sympatric Canid Population Dynamics

PI: Jamian Pacifici

Direct Sponsor: NC Wildlife Resources Commission

Amount Awarded: $28,550

Abstract: In conjunction with prior research, data collected in this study will contribute to knowledge on sympatric canid population dynamics on the AP. Estimating population size will allow managers to monitor population trends of sympatric canids and to examine the long and short-term impacts of different management strategies on their populations. While it is unknown whether sample size will allow for population estimation, obtaining relative abundance estimates for coyotes would provide wildlife managers with baseline data for monitoring changes in population abundance over time when paired with annual mortality estimates. Information on changes in abundance, reproductive dynamics, and habitat use could impact management strategies to influence long-term conservation outcomes. Results of this pilot study will allow managers to determine if future work will be necessary, what amount of effort will be required to achieve each objective, and if population estimates will be an attainable goal. Furthermore, data gathered on survival rates by age class, breeding success, litter size, mortality rates by age class, and relative abundance of sympatric canids during this project could contribute toward a two-species population viability analysis (PVA) model in development by USFWS staff, expanding upon the PVA previously performed for red wolf populations (Faust et al. 2016).


Title: Target-tree Release to Improve the Sustainability of Eastern Hemlock in the Southern Appalachian Mountains

PI: Robert Jetton

Direct Sponsor: US Forest Service

Amount Awarded: $62,316

Abstract: This project will develop and validate a silvicultural tool that improves the health and sustainability of eastern hemlock, an ecologically keystone species in the southern Appalachians threatened by the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA). Individual or small clusters of target trees (i.e., suppressed or intermediate eastern hemlocks with moderate to good crown health) will be released by removing or girdling other stems competing for sunlight directly above and adjacent to the target trees. Increased sunlight is expected to improve hemlock crown health via improved carbon balance, enhanced foliage production, and reduced HWA settlement rates relative to unreleased trees. Treatments will be replicated at a number southern Appalachian sites and will evaluate release by girdling vs. felling and variations on the size of the resulting canopy gap. Operationally, the tool is expected to prolong hemlock health and survival and increase the efficacy of existing HWA management tools (e.g. biological and chemical control) when integrated with them.


Title: Urban Forestry Economic Analysis in the Northeastern Midwest Region

PI: Rajan Parajuli

Direct Sponsor: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Amount Awarded: $159,733

Abstract: Economic contribution analysis of the urban forestry sector helps communicate the greater monetary benefits of the sector in terms of gross domestic product contribution and jobs to policy makers and legislators. This project will involve conducting an economic contribution analysis of the urban forest industries in the Northeastern Midwest Area (a 20-state region), and in 16 participating states. The specific objectives of the project are to: (1) facilitate discussion and consensus on scope of urban forest industries, methodology for analysis, and report template, (2) assist the Team and UW Survey Center in developing relevant survey questions and using results in Region and state level economic analyses, (3) document the methodology and rationale for the selected approach in a written report, (4) analyze IMPLAN and other relevant datasets for the Region, and at the state level, (5) produce reports summarizing the findings for the Region, plus each individual participating state, totaling 17 reports, and (6) present the methodology, a mid-project progress report, and a final presentation of results. To accomplish the objectives, the College of Natural Resources North Carolina State University is teamed up with Ohio State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Mississippi State University. Our multi-disciplinary team of urban forestry professionals, natural resource social scientists, and forest economists with extensive involvement in IMPLAN modeling and economic contribution analysis is capable of accomplishing this project in a timely and efficient manner.


Title: High-resolution Dynamic Risk Mapping to Guide Timely Disease Interventions

PI: Machado, Gustavo

Direct Sponsor: Swine Health Information Center

Amount Awarded: $86,987

Amount Awarded to CNR: $23,273

Abstract: We propose to map the “current” and “next week’s” risk of PEDv at high-resolution for all farm types in North Carolina. Our high-resolution maps of epidemic spread will have the capacity to: a. Identify regions on the epidemic front—that could be subjected to intensive detection surveys and/or to where animal movement is not recommended. b. From up-to-date information (e.g., weather/landscape, animal movements, past interventions), we will recommend interventions. Our maps will indicate where and which interventions should be deployed.