Smith Fellows
Smith Fellow


A central challenge for conservation planning is to design reserve networks to conserve biodiversity. The two most common approaches, network reserve algorithms and gap analysis, are limited in their ability to incorporate landscape context. As a result, dynamics of land use change in areas surrounding reserves are not incorporated. I will investigate three primary research questions. How can dynamic changes in land use context be modeled and potential threats from these changes be incorporated into reserve network design? How can the main threats to conservation areas and potential management actions be modeled so that functional definitions of conservation areas can be implemented? How can spatially explicit analytical methods link ecological processes to landscape structure so that landscape metrics will reflect changes in structure? One of the main products of my research will be a GIS-based analytical tool that can be used to guide and inform conservation decision making. This tool will be broadly applicable to ecoregional planning efforts across the country.


Theobald, D.M. 2002. Modeling functional landscape connectivity. Proceedings of the ESRI User Conference 2002. San Diego, CA. July 11.

Neely, B., G. Bell, P. Comer, H. Copeland, J. Humke, M. Lammert, C. Moritz, C. Pague, R. Rondeau, T. Schulz, S. Spackman, D. Theobald, and L. Valutis. 2001. Southern Rocky Mountains: An Ecoregional Assessment and Conservation Blueprint. The Nature Conservancy. September.

Theobald, D.M. and N.T. Hobbs. 2002. A framework for evaluating land use planning alternatives: Protecting biodiversity on private land. Conservation Ecology 6(1): 5. [online] URL:

Theobald, D.M. 2001. Land use dynamics beyond the American urban fringe. Geographical Review 91(3):544-564.

Theobald, D.M. In review. Where to conserve? Targeting conservation action through assessment of protection and threat. .

Theobald, D.M. In prep. Multi-scale connectivity of southern Rock Mountain forests.