Scientists & Staff

Louis Iverson

Louis Iverson

Landscape Ecologist
359 Main Road
Delaware, OH, 43015
Phone: 740-368-0097

Contact Louis Iverson

Current Research

  • Climate change impacts: we have developed models for most tree species and bird species on potential impacts of several scenarios of climate change. We use statistical modeling tools related to classification and regression trees; our current favorite tool is random forest. We also use a simulation of migration over 100 years to estimate potential spread of trees into the new suitable habitat made available via climate change. Our newest web site offers location-based and species-based information on how managers may move ahead on adaptation efforts for the changing climate.
  • Emerald ash borer: we modeled the potential spread of the organism through a migration model. 
  • Prescribed fire and oak restoration: we are evaluating the role of fire in regenerating oak and other tree species across the landscape, including under mesic, intermediate, and xeric conditions (via the Integrated Moisture Index). We have also modeled landtypes across the southeastern counties of Ohio.
  • GIS modeling: we continue to use GIS in modeling outcomes in a variety of projects.
Prasad, Anantha; Pedlar, John; Peters, Matt; McKenney, Dan; Iverson, Louis; Matthews, Steve; Adams, Bryce. 2020. Combining US and Canadian forest inventories to assess habitat suitability and migration potential of 25 tree species under climate change. Diversity and Distributions. 26(9): 1142-1159.

Iverson, Louis R.; Bartig, Jarel L.; Nowacki, Gregory J.; Peters, Matthew P.; Dyer, James M.; Hutchinson, Todd F.; Matthews, Stephen N.; Adams, Bryce T. 2019. USDA Forest Service section, subsection, and landtype descriptions for southeastern Ohio. Research Map NRS-10. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 68 p. [Printed map included].

Iverson, Louis R.; Prasad, Anantha M.; Peters, Matthew P.; Matthews, Stephen N. 2019. Facilitating Adaptive Forest Management under Climate Change: A Spatially Specific Synthesis of 125 Species for Habitat Changes and Assisted Migration over the Eastern United States. Forests. 10(11): 989-.

Iverson, Louis R.; Peters, Matthew P.; Prasad, Anantha M.; Matthews, Stephen N. 2019. Analysis of Climate Change Impacts on Tree Species of the Eastern US: Results of DISTRIB-II Modeling. Forests. 10(4): 302.

Research Interests

I plan to pursue the same lines of research in the future. As a pioneer in GIS modeling in landscape ecology (since 1983), I know that expanding opportunities continue to make the marriage of ecology and GIS/remote sensing more fruitful and applicable to managing our natural resources. Now, in part-time mode, I work with the Landscape Change Research Group in Delaware and the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science within NRS to further the goals of implementing aspects of adapting to the changing climate as well as tools to enhance potentials for oak regeneration.

Why This Research is Important

  • Estimation of climate change impacts are being requested by many sources to better understand the implications of various scenarios over the next 100 years
  • Estimation of emerald ash borer spread is important to give managers better indications of when the organism will impact their forests
  • Facilitation of oak regeneration is important to provide sustained oak and hickory, and all the economic and ecological benefits they provide, over the long term
  • GIS modeling provides many tools for developing 'what if' scenarios


  • University of North Dakota, Ph.D. Biology, 1981
  • University of North Dakota, B.S. Biology, 1976

Professional Experience

  • Adjunct Professor, Ohio State University

Professional Organizations

  • Ecological Society of America (1998 - Current)
  • Ecological Society of America (1974 - Current)
  • Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Honor Society (1974 - Current)
  • IUFRO-Landscape Ecology (2011 - 2019)
  • International Association for Landscape Ecology (U.S. Chapter) (1993 - 2018)
    Board of Editors
  • International Association for Landscape Ecology (2003 - 2007)

Awards & Recognition

  • Distinguished Service Award, International Association for Landscape Ecology, 2015 For distinguished service over 25+ years to IALE and US-IALE.
  • Ecological Society of America Fellow, 2021 Leadership in putting the field of landscape ecology on a firm footing
  • IUFRO Certificate of Appreciation, 2021 Outstanding commitment, leadership, and excellent service as officeholder in IUFRO
  • Distinguished Landscape Ecologist Award, 2002 Highest honor given by the International Association for Landscape Ecology (US Chapter)
  • Distinguished Service Award, International Association for Landscape Ecology, 2015 For distinguished service over 25+ years to IALE and US-IALE.
  • Distinguished Landscape Ecologist Award, 2002 Highest honor given by the International Association for Landscape Ecology (US Chapter)

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

Research Datasets

  • Peters, Matthew P.; Iverson, Louis R.; Prasad, Anantha M.; Matthews, Stephen N. 2019. DISTRIB-II: habitat suitability of eastern United States trees. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.
  • Matthews, Stephen N.; Iverson, Louis R.; Peters, Matthew P.; Prasad, Anantha M. 2019. Climate change pressures for the conterminous United States: plant hardiness zones, heat zones, growing degree days, and cumulative drought severity. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.
  • Peters, Matthew P.; Iverson, Louis R. 2017. Eastern United States wildfire hazard model: 2000-2009. Fort Collins, CO: Forest Service Research Data Archive.

National Research Highlights

A representative portion of the landtype map for southeastern Ohio from the Wayne National Forest, Bailey's Project Area (outlined in black), in Athens County, Ohio.

Defining and Mapping Landtypes to Encourage Shared Stewardship and Oak Management in Southeastern Ohio

Year: 2019

Mapping land types across public and private landscapes encourages shared stewardship by providing owners or managers consistent tools for delineating forest management units, preparing management plans, managing for oak restoration, defining silvicultural prescriptions, assessing productivity, predicting species assemblages, and designing research and monitoring studies.

Figure legend: These maps depict change in an index of drought severity for the period 2070-2099 under multiple climate scenarios. The maps show a large variationin potential drought throughout much of the conterminous US, mostly because of high uncertainty in future precipitation. Based on data from the RPA 2020 Assessment, the ‘warm wet’ figure represents a scenario with increased precipitation and less warming resulting from a relatively rapid reduction of greenhouse gases so that emissions peak ~2040. The ‘hot-wet’ scenario, also with rapid reduction of greenhouse gases, is wet but hot. The ‘hot-slightly dry’ scenario assumes continued current emissions levels for much of this century and is hot with slightly less precipitation, while the ‘hot-dry’ scenario is both dry and hot, resulting in the most severe drought conditions.

Mapping U.S. Drought Projections Helps Foresters Plan for Sustainability

Year: 2018

Droughts are natural disturbances that can cause negative effects on natural ecosystems and also have important social and economic consequences. Researchers are helping land managers prepare for changing climate conditions by developing projections of how drought may change in the future.

Maple syrup from sugar maple trees provides many important economic and cultural services and understand how sugar maple’s habitat may respond to climate change provides important insights to future management considerations.

Managing for a delicious ecosystem service under climate change

Year: 2017

Maple syrup is a highly valued resource produced primarily from the sap of the sugar maple. Understanding how this resource may be impacted by climate change and other threats is essential to continue management for maple syrup into the future.

Landtypes (with both formal and colloquial names) derived from the landscape model for a portion of the Athens District of the Wayne National Forest (Bailey’s project area). Maps were generated for the entire 17-county region of SE Ohio.

The hunt for good oak regeneration sites

Year: 2017

Landscape modeling and field sampling may identify the best locations for restoring oak forests. Managers at the Wayne National Forest are using a methodology created by Forest Service scientists to help determine “zones of investment” for maximum value with limited resources.

Numbers indicate the future:current ratio, while colors represent the change class, where red=large decrease (future:current ratio 0.5 & 0.2 & 1.2 & 2.0). Louis Iverson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Forecasts from Multiple Models Provides more Reliable Results

Year: 2016

Using multiple models instead of a single model allows researchers to develop more reliable forecasts of future forest change.

This flow diagram shows how we ranked species for potential to replace ash: status and risk to ash was considered together with potential of co-occurring species (both in Minnesota and in points south in Michigan and Ohio) to tolerate a changing climate. Louis Iverson, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Equipping Forest Managers to Respond to Two Threats to Ash

Year: 2016

Forest Service scientists used field data and models to assess both the threats to, and potential replacement species for, black ash, a species threatened by climate change and the emerald ash borer.

Chart of percent increase in number of taps estimated for Vermont, Wisconsin, and Kentucky at three dates (2040, 2070, 2100) and for two scenarios of climate change to maintain current production levels (PCM B1 - mild, and Hadley A1FI - harsh). Also presented is estimated added costs for taps, at $6 per tap. USDA Forest Service

Potential Changes Expected in Sugar Maple Syrup Production

Year: 2015

Scientists expect climate change to decrease the quantity of maple syrup produced per tap, especially in locations more peripheral in the current range of sugar maple; for example, Kentucky will be impacted more than Wisconsin, which will be impacted more than Vermont. To adapt, more trees will need to be tapped to produce equivalent levels of syrup, raising production costs.

Black ash stand in swampy land on the Chippewa National Forest near Cass Lake, Minnesota. Louis Iverson, USDA Forest Service

Ash Trees at the Confluence of Two Threats: Emerald Ash Borer and Climate Change

Year: 2014

Black ash, the iconic wetland species of the Northwoods, is threatened by both the emerald ash borer and changing climate. What tree species might be suitable to replace these ashes should they disappear Forest Service scientists used a series of data sets and models to characterize and prioritize possible species capable of dealing with the wetland situation under a changed climate projected for later this century.

Last modified: Monday, January 31, 2022