What were forests like at the time of European settlement?
In the eastern forests of the United States, changing climate and land-use are affecting forested ecosystems in ways that will have important economic and ecological consequences for centuries.  In order to inform land management decisions affecting the trajectories of these changes, we need to develop reliable forecasting and assessment tools.

To fully understand how these forests are changing, we need to understand their history.  Our research team based in the McLachlan Lab at the University of Notre Dame works to digitize and aggregate historical forest survey data from the early 19th century in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.  See the Project Overview for more information.

As part of the PalEON Project, this work will contribute to regional reconstructions of these forests over the past 2000 years.


The PaleoEcological Observatory Network 

PalEON is an interdisciplinary team of paleoecologists, environmental statisticians, and ecosystem modelers with the goal of producing rigorous and robust reconstructions of past ecological variables for the purpose of initializing and validating terrestrial ecosystem models. Read more about the larger PalEON Project at paleonproject.org.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 1065702.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.



News and Updates

  • Fall 2017 This fall we have six Notre Dame undergrads working diligently to enter data starting in Illinois then moving on to Indiana!
    Posted Oct 19, 2017, 10:32 AM by Jody Peters
  • Fall 2016 PLS Plans We are off to another year of PLS data entry!  Over the past year, we entered  164 new townships in IN and 131 in IL.  We are starting with townships ...
    Posted Aug 30, 2016, 1:10 PM by Jody Peters
  • Kankakee Marsh Project in the News Tammy Patterson, the project manager for the Kankakee Marsh project we are involved with was interviewed about the project and featured as front page news in the South Bend Tribune ...
    Posted Oct 13, 2014, 6:28 AM by Jody Peters
  • Looking forward to 2014-2015! Last year we made alot of progress on entering township data across Indiana (see map here)!  We expect lots of progress for the 2014-2015 academic year as well.  We ...
    Posted Sep 17, 2014, 1:22 PM by Jody Peters
  • New Kankakee Marsh Collaboration We are excited to announce that we are beginning a new collaboration with Tammy Patterson from the USGS/Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station and the Hellmann lab!  Tammy is overseeing ...
    Posted Oct 22, 2013, 1:43 PM by Jody Peters
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