Dr. Peter T Wolter

People
Assistant Professor
Photograph of Peter Wolter

About

Peter is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University.  His broad interests iclude forest ecosystem monitoring using satellite remote sensing technology.   Currently he is investigating the use of airborne lidar data to calibrate satellite-based forest structure estimation models that presently rely on ground-based measurement data. The aim is to be able to accurately and efficiently monitor forest biophysical parameters using readily available data sources, and provide a framework for semi-automated, periodic updates to track forest structural changes and associated impacts on ecosystem biodiversity.

Peter completed his Ph.D. at UW-Madison with Dr. Phil Townsend in May of 2009. His dissertation work focused on using synoptic polar orbiting sensors (Landsat, SPOT, Radarsat, and PALSAR) to model and map forest biophysical parameters (e.g., tree species abundance, tree size, basal area, crown closure, etc.) in northern Minnesota to support ongoing studies focused on understanding landscape-level insect outbreak dynamics which may lead to the design of more pest-resistant landscapes through adaptive forest management.

Prior to moving to Madison, Peter was a Research Fellow with the Natural Resources Research Institute at the University of Minnesota –Duluth (1991-2004). His work at NRRI focused on using multi-temporal satellite sensor data to map forest cover, monitoring forest change through time, and study the effects of harvesting patterns on landscape structure in the upper Midwest and Canada.

Previously, Peter received a MS in Forest Resources from the University of New Hampshire – Durham in 1990 where he also worked as a Research Scientist at UNH’s Complex Systems Research Center within the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space. His work at Complex Systems centered on using multi-resolution satellite sensor data to link fine-scale forest change dynamics in the Brazilian Amazon to broader scales for global change research and simulation models of biotic influence on atmospheric gas composition.

 

Research

Fire severity and ecosystem impacts immediately following an extreme fire event in northern Minnesota... Pagami Fire link
A lightning strike on August 18, 2011 started a forest fire in the heart of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) Wilderness in northern Minnesota near Pagami Creek.  On September 12, fanned by 35mph winds, this relatively small forest fire rapidly grew into the largest forest fire east of the Mississippi in over 115 years.  The Pagami Creek Fire provided an exceptional research opportunity due to the magnitude of the disturbance, the range of fire intensities it contained, and the wealth of mapped pre-fire forest composition and structure information our research team has assembled.
Initial research questions for our project included: 

  1. To what extent do remotely-sensed (hyperspectral) fire severity estimates reflect field-based severity indices in both the overstory and the understory?
  2. How do overstory and understory fire severities interact to influence soil carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and mercury (Hg) loss immediately after a fire in comparison with those in the first growing season after the fire?

The primary objective of the Pagami Fire Severity Project is to establish a baseline of initial impacts upon which future research into fire-forest interactions may be based.

Teaching

  FOR 345, Natural Resource Photogrammetry and Geographic Information Systems.
  NREM 446/546, Integrating GPS and GIS for Natural Resource Management.

Professional Associations

  American Geophysical Union
  American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
  Association of American Geographers
  Society of American Foresters

Grants

  2011, NSF (Ecosystem RAPID Response) $14,201. Fire severity and ecosystem impacts immediately following an extreme fire event in northern Minnesota (Lead PI).

  2009, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service $3000.00.  Estimating forest composition and basal area in Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge using multi-temporal Landsat data (Lead PI).

  2008, The Nature Conservancy $5,500, Forest landscape change analysis, Manitou and Sand Lakes\Seven Beavers: 2000-2005 (lead PI).

  2001, EPA STAR/NASA Grant, $600,000, Development of state indicators for Great Lakes ecosystem health using remote sensing technology (Co-PI with G. Niemi, C.Johnston).

  1999, NASA (LCLUC99-0151-0006), $497,327, Mapping and modeling forest change in a boreal landscape (Co-PI with John Pastor lead PI).

  1995, USDA Forest Service, $20,000, Forest classification of northern Minnesota using Landsat data (lead PI).

Service

  Articles reviewed for the following journals:
    Remote Sensing of Environment
    Landscape Ecology
    Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing
    International Journal of Remote Sensing

Selected Publications

Miranda, B.R., Sturtevant, B.R., Schmelzer, I., Doyon, F., and Wolter, P.T. (submitted).  Vegetation recovery following fire and harvest disturbance in central Labrador – A landscape perspective.  Forest Ecology and Management.

Wolter, P.T., Berkley, E.A., Peckham, S.D., Singh, A., & Townsend, P.A. (submitted).  Using Landsat sensor data as a management tool for oak woodland and savanna ecosystem restoration.  Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management.

James, P, Sturtevant, B.R., Miranda, B.B, Wolter, P.T. & Fortin, M-J. (in review). Differences in disturbance induced forest structure across an international border: implications for sustainable forest management. Landscape Ecology.

Sturtevant, B.R., Miranda, B.B., Wolter, P.T., James, P.M.A., Fortin, M-J., and Townsend, P.A. (in review).  Processes underlying divergent forest disturbance legacies in the Border Lakes region of Minnesota (USA) and Ontario (Canada).  Ecosystems.

Wolter, P.T., Sturtevant, B.R., Miranda, B.R., Lietz, S.M., Townsend, P.A., and Pastor, J. (2012).  Greater Border Lakes Region land cover classification and change detection. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. http://dx.doi.org/10.2737/RDS-2012-0007

Wolter, P.T., Berkley, E.A., Peckham, S.D., Singh, A., & Townsend, P.A. (2012).  Exploiting tree shadows on snow for estimating forest basal area using Landsat data.  Remote Sensing of Environment, 121, 69-79.

Sturtevant, B.R., Miranda, B.R., Shinneman, D.J., Gustafson, E.J., & Wolter, P.T. (2012).  Comparing modern and presettlement forest dynamics of a subboreal wilderness: Does spruce budworm enhance fire risk?  Ecological Applications, 22(4), 2012, pp. 1278–1296.

James, P.M.A., Sturtevant, B.R., Townsend, P.A., Wolter, P.T., & Fortin, M-J (2011).  Two-dimensional wavelet analysis of spruce budworm host basal area in the Border Lakes landscape.  Ecological Applications, 21(6), 2197-2209.

Wolter, P.T. & Townsend, P.A. (2011).  Estimating forest species composition using a multi-sensor fusion approach.   Remote Sensing of Environment, 115, 671–691.

Sturtevant, B., Quinn, V., Robert, L-E, Kneeshaw, D., James, P., Fortin, M-J., Wolter, P., Townsend, P., Cooke, B. (2009).  Can landscape-scale management influence insect outbreak dynamics? A natural experiment for eastern spruce budworm.  DigitalCommons@USU.  Available:  http://www.usu.edu/forestry/nafew2009/

Wolter, P.T., Townsend, P.A., & Sturtevant, B.R. (2009).  Estimation of forest structural parameters using 5 and 10 meter SPOT-5 satellite data.  Remote Sensing of Environment, 113, 2019-2036.

Johnston, C.A., Brown, T.N., Hollenhorst, T.P., Wolter, P.T., Danz, N.P., Niemi, G.J. (2009). GIS in support of ecological indicator development. Manual of Geographic Information Systems (56):1095-1113.

Wolter, P.T., Townsend, P.A., Kingdon, C.C., & Sturtevant, B.R. (2008).  Remote sensing of the distribution and abundance of host species for spruce budworm in Northern Minnesota and Ontario.  Remote Sensing of Environment, 112(10), 3971-3982.

Johnston, C.A., Watson, T., & Wolter, P.T. (2008).  Sixty-three years of land alteration in Erie Township.  International Journal of Great Lakes Research, 33 (3), 253–268.

Wolter, P.T., Johnston, C.A., & Niemi, G.J. (2006).  Land use land cover change in the U.S. Great Lakes basin 1992 to 2001.  International Journal for Great Lakes Research, 32, 607-628.

Pastor, J., Sharp, A., & Wolter, P. (2005).  An application of Markov models to the dynamics of Minnesota’s forests.  Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 35, 3011-3019.

Wolter, P.T., Niemi, G.J., & Johnston, C.A. (2005).  Mapping SAV in the U.S. Great Lakes Using Quickbird Satellite Data.  International Journal of Remote Sensing, 26(23), 5255-5274.

Wolter, P.T. & White, M.A. (2002).  Recent forest cover type transitions and landscape structural changes in northeast Minnesota.  Landscape Ecology, 17, 133-155.

Hanowski, J.M., Wolter, P.T., & Niemi, G.J. (2002).  Effects of prescriptive riparian buffers on Landscape characteristics in northern Minnesota.  Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 38(2), 633-639.

Wolter, P.T. & Lane, W.H. (2001).  A look at Boreal Owl nesting habitat in northeastern Minnesota using Landsat data.  Loon, 73, 192-199.

Wolter, P.T., Mladenoff, D.J., Host, G.E., & Crow, T.R. (1995).  Improved forest classification in the northern Lake State using multi-temporal Landsat imagery.  Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 61(9), 1129-1143.

Conferences

Wolter, P.T., Berkley, E.A., & Peckham, S.D.  (2011). Estimating basal area of oak woodland and savanna using moderate-resolution satellite imagery (Poster).  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Conference, Conserving the Future: Wildlife Refuges and The Next Generation, 10-13 July, Madison, WI.

Sturtevant, B., Quinn, V., Robert, L-E., Kneeshaw, D., James, P., Fortin, M-J., Wolter, P., Townsend, P., & Cooke, B. (2009).  Can landscape-scale management influence insect outbreak dynamics? A natural experiment for eastern spruce budworm (Abs.).  Seventh North American Forest Ecology Workshop, Utah State University, 22-26 June, Logan, UT.

Wolter, P.T. & Townsend, P.A. (2009).  Estimating forest species composition using a multi-sensor approach (poster). Eos Trans. AGU, 88(54), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract B31A-0312.

James, P.M., Sturtevant, B.R., Townsend, P.A., Wolter, P.T., & Fortin, M-J. (2008).  Spatial legacies of forest management in spruce budworm host species.  Proceedings: 23rd Annual Landscape Ecology Symposium, 6-10 April 2008 Madison, WI.

Wolter, P.T., Townsend, P.A., Kingdon, C.C., & Sturtevant, B.R. (2007).  A multivariate approach for using satellite imagery to map the composition and structure of forests susceptible to insect disturbance: Application to the simulation of carbon dynamics in northern Minnesota and Ontario (Poster), Eos Trans. AGU, 88(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract B43C-1443.

Batzli, S.A., Toyoda, E., Wolter, P., Olsen, T., & Roman, G. (2006).  Coupling real-time weather information and satellite imagery in support of emergency management.  In Proceedings: American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, 7-11 March, Chicago, IL.

Wolter, P.T., Johnston, C.A., & Niemi, G.J. (2005).  Land use change in the U.S. Great Lakes basin 1992 to 2001 (Oral Presentation), Lake Michigan: State of the Lake/State of the Bay and Annual Great Lakes Beach Association Conference, 2-3 November, Green Bay, WI.

Wolter, P.T., Niemi, G.J., & Johnston, C.A. (2003).  Development of environmental indicators for the U.S. Great Lakes basin using QuickBird, Radarsat, and Landsat (poster).  30th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment, Honolulu, HI, 10-14 November.

Wolter, P.T. & Pastor, J. (2002).  Mapping and modeling forest change in a boreal landscape (poster).  NASA LCLUC Science Team Meeting, Washington D.C., 20-22 November.

Hanowski, J.M., Wolter, P.T., & Niemi, G.J. (2000).  Effects of riparian buffers on Landscape characteristics: implications for breeding birds.  International Conference: Riparian Ecology and Management in Multi-land use Watersheds, American Water Resources Association, Portland, OR, 28-31 August 2000, p. 523-528.

Host, G.E., White, M.A. Polzer, P.L., & Wolter, P.T. (1997).  Great Lakes assessment: Assessing landscape pattern and structure in Lake States forests.  Proceedings: 7th Annual Minnesota GIS/LIS Conference, St. Cloud, MN, 1-3 October.

Wolter, P.T. & Mladenoff, D.J. (1995).  Forest cover classification of northeastern Minnesota using multi-temporal Landsat data and National Wetlands Inventory data. (Abstract). Poster presented by P.T. Wolter at the 10th Annual U.S. Landscape Ecology Symposium, Minneapolis, MN, 22-26 April.

Polzer, P., Wolter, P.T., Mladenoff, D.J., Host, G.E., & White, M.A. (1994).  Quantifying forest change dynamics using a MSS-NDVI composite for a northern Wisconsin landscape. (Abstract). Poster presented by P. Polzer and P.T. Wolter at the Ecosystem Management Strategies Conference for the Lake Superior Region, 16-19 May.

Wolter, P.T., Mladenoff, D.J., Host, G.E., & Crow, T.R. (1993).  Improved forest classification in the northern Lake State using multi-temporal Landsat imagery. (Abstract). Poster presented by P.T. Wolter at the 8th Annual U.S. Landscape Ecology Symposium, Oak Ridge, TN, March.

White, M.A., Mladenoff, D.J., Host, G.E., Wolter, P.T., & Crow, T.R. (1993).  Analyzing regional landscape structure across ownership categories and ecological land units. (Abstract). Poster presented by M.A. White at the 8th Annual U.S. Landscape Ecology Symposium, Oak Ridge, TN, March.

Area of Expertise: 
Forestry
Human Interactions
Sustainability
Education: 
B.S., Forest Administration, University of Wisconsin, 1985
M.S., Forest Resources, University of New Hampshire, 1990
Ph.D., Forest Ecology, University of Wisconsin, 2009
Contact
515-294-7312
132 Science II
Ames
Iowa
50011-