Looking out at the Palouse from a hill top

Transition of landscapes

The process of urbanization is one the most pressing problems facing the nation and world but is also among the least understood. It induces profound changes to the social, economic and physical characteristics in the region in which it occurs and often impacts surrounding areas. This problem involves the study of environments consisting of several distinct geophysical, biological and social structures that interact and evolve with time. The evolution of the system depends on external drivers such as the climate, policy and physical design decisions. Prime study areas could be the Spokane to Coeur d’Alene corridor or the Boise area.

Studying large, complex systems such as these would require long-term projects to develop an understanding of the urbanization process and its effects on the social and physical landscape. With these studies, models predicting the impacts of proposed physical design and policy decisions could be created.

There are already two teams established in this area. We have already won a Long-Term Agroecosystem Project planning grant in partnership with Washington State University and Oregon State University to study dry-land cereal production in the inland Pacific North West. A second team led by the University of Idaho in partnership with Washington State University, the U.S. Forest Service, the Idaho National Laboratory and various communities is developing proposals to study the dynamic interactions between human and natural systems.
Research Area Coordinator
Dr. J. Gosz
Associate Dean, College of Natural Resources