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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  2. Management practices are one of the most important factors affecting forest structure and function. Landowners in southern United States manage forests using appropriately sized areas, to meet management objectives that include economic return, sustainability, and esthetic enjoyment. Road networks spatially designate the socio-environmental elements for the forests, which represented and aggregated as forest management units. Road networks are widely used for managing forests by setting logging roads and firebreaks. We propose that common types of forest management are practiced in road-delineated units that can be determined by remote sensing satellite imagery coupled with crowd-sourced road network datasets. Satellite sensors do not always capture road-caused canopy openings, so it is difficult to delineate ecologically relevant units based only on satellite data. By integrating citizen-based road networks with the National Land Cover Database, we mapped road-delineated management units across the regional landscape and analyzed the size frequency distribution of management units. We found the road-delineated units smaller than 0.5 ha comprised 64% of the number of units, but only 0.98% of the total forest area. We also applied a statistical similarity test (Warren’s Index) to access the equivalency of road-delineated units with forest disturbances by simulating a serious of neutral landscapes. The outputsmore »showed that the whole southeastern U.S. has the probability of road-delineated unit of 0.44 and production forests overlapped significantly with disturbance areas with an average probability of 0.50.« less
  3. The implications of cumulative land-use decisions and shifting climate on forests, require us to integrate our understanding of ecosystems, markets, policy, and resource management into a social-ecological system. Humans play a central role in macrosystem dynamics, which complicates ecological theories that do not explicitly include human interactions. These dynamics also impact ecological services and related markets, which challenges economic theory. Here, we use two forest macroscale management initiatives to develop a theoretical understanding of how management interacts with ecological functions and services at these scales and how the multiple large-scale management goals work either in consort or conflict with other forest functions and services. We suggest that calling upon theories developed for organismal ecology, ecosystem ecology, and ecological economics adds to our understanding of social-ecological macrosystems. To initiate progress, we propose future research questions to add rigor to macrosystem-scale studies: (1) What are the ecosystem functions that operate at macroscales, their necessary structural components, and how do we observe them? (2) How do systems at one scale respond if altered at another scale? (3) How do we both effectively measure these components and interactions, and communicate that information in a meaningful manner for policy and management across different scales?