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Tonya Lister

Research Forester
Forest Inventory & Analysis
3460 Industrial Dr.
York, PA 17402
United States
Current Research

My current research is focused in three main areas:

1) Urban forest land dynamics and urbanization -- In 2014, the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) unit established a national urban forest inventory program and began monitoring in urban areas around the nation, focusing on the most populous cities. The urban FIA program uses established FIA monitoring methods, database and reporting tools, and statistical techniques, along with i-Tree software tools that quantify ecosystem services. The goal of this effort is to study trends in the composistion, structure, and health of nation's urban forest and to monitor the ecosystem services urban trees provide. Research also includes analyses of temporal and spatial trends in urban forest extent as well as urban to rural forest comparisons.

2) Spatial distribution of forest land and forest fragmentation -- Research focuses on exploring new methods of assessing forest fragmentation, including patch-based and landscape-based metrics. The goal is to determine the most meaningful indicators and analyze their relationship with other forest-related variables including invasive species, forest structure, species diversity, etc. Future research will focus on the dynamic nature of fragmentation and characterizing the process of fragmentation from spatial and temporal perspectives.

3) Land use/land cover change -- Research includes the analysis of fine and coarse-scale land use/land cover change dynamics using remotely-sensed and field-based data, including Landsat imagery, National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) imagery, and forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data. The goal is to develop predictive models of land use/land cover change based on change matrices and auxiliary data including demographic and biophysical data.

Why This Research Is Important
Because the well-being of the populace is so closely tied to the forest, the need to continually inventory and monitor the region's forests has long been recognized. With more than 80 percent of the U.S. population living in urban areas, tree cover in these areas is especially critical. Trees offer offer a wide range of environmental benefits including the provision of wildlife habitat, aesthetic appeal and visual barriers, microclimate control, water quality improvement, and air and noise pollution control. Many changes in forest condition and extent are human-induced. It is important to understand the impacts of population growth on forest spatial distribution, composition, and health, including forest land conversion, forest fragmentation, and urbanization.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, M.S., Forest BiologyThesis topic: Sustaining the Productivity and Function of Intensively Managed Forests, 1999
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, B.S., Environmental Systems Technology, 1992
Professional Experience
  • Research Forester,  US Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis, Newtown Square, PA,  2001 - Current
  • Forester,  US Forest Service, Forest Inventory and Analysis, Newtown Square, PA,  1999 - 2001
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Forest Biology,  Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA,  1996 - 1999
  • Field Botany Research Assistant,  Fort Stewart, GA,  1995 - 1996
  • Environmental Educator,  US Peace Corps, Panama,  1993 - 1995
  • Laboratory Technician,  Ciba Corporation, Greensboro, NC,  1989 - 1993
Professional Organizations
  • Society of American Foresters (SAF),  Current
Awards & Recognition
  • NRS-FIA , 2017
    Individual Contribution Award
  • NRS-FIA, 2016
    Individual Contribution Award
  • NRS-FIA, 2011
    Group Contribution Award
  • Spot Award, 2004
    Award recipient for accelerated data compilation and analysis of eastwide American chestnut resource.
  • Research Award, 1999
    Sigma Xi (Scientific Research Society) Masters Research Award Recipient
Featured Publications
Other Publications
Research Highlights

Forest Inventory and Analysis is Coming to a City Near You

Year: 2016
In collaboration with state and local partners, the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA) has begun monitoring the urban forest resource with special focus on the nation’s largest cities. FIA recently completed its first urban inventory report that describes the urban for...

Forest Inventory and Analysis Urban Monitoring Expands to Include 26 Cities

Year: 2017
In collaboration with state and local partners, the Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIS) Program has expanded urban forest monitoring to include 26 cities. FIA recently crossed a major milestone with data collection underway in more than 25 percent of the program’s proposed cities, m...