Smokies Land Use History Project Proposal

From: Tanner Monroe Jessel <>
Sent: Monday, February 18, 2013 12:30 PM
Subject: geog411-sp2013merged: Smokies Land Use History Project

Hi all, another final project idea here related to determining the land use history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP).

I propose a group form to look at historical maps and survey photographs of the Park to determine what land areas in the Smoky Mountains National Park have experienced some type of disturbance due to human activity. I am specifically interested in agricultural activity and other activities that disturb the soil, such as roads and settlements.

The purpose of the project is to develop a method and proof-of-concept for generating a disturbance layer for a land area of the park, likely a watershed with well-documented human activity.

The methods devised for this project could be scaled up for processing the whole park. The value of the proposed project is that no disturbance layer for the park currently exists. Understanding soil disturbance / anthropogenic effects in the Park can help more accurately predict the distribution of plant and animal species using probabilistic computer models, such as the one at <>.

The methods I propose are to examine historical U.S. Geological Survey topograhic maps that were generated using aerial photography and photogrammetry. These historical maps are available digitally as GeoPDFs via the USGS historical map collection <> and include key features like human settlements, roads, trails, and land cover via "woodland tint." Potential sources of information include the USGS Web Site (for historical maps), the Tennessee Valley Authority (for historic photographs), and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park archives collection (for more historic photogrpahs).

This is a suitable project for students interested in working with a Federal science agency like the USGS, NPS, FWS, or other natural resource management agency. Students interested in natural and cultural resource management fields like wildlife, plant science, or anthropology will likely find this project of interest. I am a first-year Masters candidate in Information Sciences with an undergrad background in Ecology and Evolution.

I’m hoping to make a nice poster group members can be proud of and share with prospective employers or even a conference. If this project sounds interesting to you, please e-mail me,

I will also archive this message on the discussion board.




About Tanner Jessel

I am a recent M.S. in Information Science graduate from the University of Tennessee School of Information Science. I was formerly a graduate research assistant funded by DataONE (Data Observation Network for Earth). Prior, I worked for four years as a content lead and biodiversity scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Biodiversity Informatics Program. Building on my work experience in biodiversity and environmental informatics, my work with DataONE focused on exploring the nature of scientific collaborations necessary for scientific inquiry. I also conducted research concerning user experience and usability, and assisted in development of member nodes with an emphasis on spatial data and infrastructure. I assisted with research designed to understand sociocultural issues within collaborative research communities. Through August 1, 2014, I was based at the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee School of Information Science in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Posted on August 12, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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