During work conducted under the guise of the Observing the Earth from Space course in the spring of 2000, I identified a potential relationship between the rate of change in conifer cover and the rate of change in deer harvest rates on private lands in northeastern Connecticut. Focusing on the towns comprising Tolland and Windham counties, I found that certain clusters of contiguous towns showed a strong linear relationship between % change in conifer cover and change in deer harvest rate. Previously published studies have attempted to identify relationships between deer harvest rate and forest structure at a static point in time, but no researcher has described the relationship between rates of change for these quantities.
The purpose of this project is to extend the research (a) to the entire state of CT and (b) to both public and private lands. To do so, I will generate supervised classifications of forest cover for the entire state for two or more Landsat images, perform a variety of tests to evaluate the accuracy of the classifications, and calculate change-in-forested-area statistics for towns and state forests. These will be used along with deer harvest data (provided by the state) for further regression analysis. The general hypotheses to be tested are (a) that changes (deforestation or afforestation) in conifer cover generally reduce deer harvest rates, and (b) that regional (i.e. multi-town) effects of the relationship between conifers and deer densities can be identified.