Jennifer Kwasny Costanza

Jennifer Costanza

Landscape Ecologist
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources
North Carolina State University

Contact me

About Me

I am a landscape ecologist with research interests in the ecological effects of global change, land change modeling and landscape conservation. I received my Ph.D. in ecology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and am currently Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources at North Carolina State University.

Much of my current research is funded by the USDA Forest Service, and involves investigating future forest dynamics across the U.S. in response to changes in climate, disturbances, land use and land management. Colleagues and I are producing future projections of forest conditions for the Forest Service’s Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment.

I use machine learning techniques, geospatial analysis, and simulation models to conduct my research, including R and Python programming, ArcGIS, and state-and-transition simulation models.

My other recent and ongoing research spans landscape ecology and conservation biology, including: modeling wildlife habitat connectivity in the southeastern U.S., simulating landscape dynamics under scenarios of bioenergy production in North Carolina, and mapping threats to ecosystems in the North American Coastal Plain – the world’s newest (and coolest!) global biodiversity hotspot. My previous research has focused on prescribed fire management in the longleaf pine ecosystem.

Please take a look at my publications and feel free to contact me.


February 7, 2020
The birds and the trees: Scientists use remote sensing data to help explain patterns of life. Coverage of our BioXGeo working group and new publication.
Michigan State University news article

February 26, 2019
Land-use and climate change are the biggest challenges to future connectivity. Read my blog post about our review paper in Current Landscape Ecology Reports.
Conservation Corridor

July 10, 2018
Family Forests Are the Ties That Bind the Landscape in CompassLive.
USDA Forest Service news article

August 23, 2017
Landscape context can help restoration priorities. My new coauthored paper is now online in Restoration Ecology.
Online early version here
USDA Forest Service news article


These are my major experience and publications. Contact me for my full CV.

Ph.D., Ecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, 2010
Master of Environmental Management, Duke University, Durham, NC, 2001
B.S., Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 1999

Research Assistant Professor, Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, NC State University, Raleigh NC, 2014-present
Research Associate, Landscape Ecology and Modeling, Department of Applied Ecology, NC State University, Raleigh NC, 2012-2014
Postdoctoral Associate, Landscape Ecology, Department of Biology (later became Applied Ecology), NC State University, Raleigh, NC, 2010-2012
Conservation Associate, The Nature Conservancy, Durham, NC , 2005-2010
GIS Director, Tipton County Government, Covington, TN , 2001-2004
Watershed Planner, Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation, Syracuse, IN , 2001


  • Record, S. K. Dahlin, P.L. Zarnetske, Read, Q., Malone, S.L., Gaddis, K., Grady, J.M., Costanza, J.K., Hobi, M., Latimer, A., Pau, S., Wilson, A.M., Ollinger, S., Finley, A., Hestir, E. Remote sensing of geodiversity as a link to biodiversity. Chapter in: Remote Sensing of Biodiversity: Using spectral signals to understand the biology and biodiversity of plants, communities, ecosystems and the tree of life. Springer Remote Sensing/Photogrammetry Series. Editors: Cavender-Bares, J., Gamon, J., Townsend, P. (In Press).
  • Read, Q.D., Zarnetske, P.L., Record, S., Dahlin, K.M., Costanza, J.K., Finley, A.O., Gaddis, K.D., Grady, J.M., Hobi, Latimer, A.M., M.L., Malone, S.L., Ollinger, S.V., Pau, S., Wilson, A.M. 2020. Beyond counts and averages: relating geodiversity to dimensions of biodiversity. Global Ecology and Biogeography 29(4):696-710. doi: 10.1111/geb.13061 Available here
  • Costanza, J.K., Riitters, K., Wickham, J., Vogt, P. 2019. Describing and analyzing landscape patterns: where are we now, and where are we going? Landscape Ecology 34(9):2049-2055. doi: 10.1007/s10980-019-00889-6. Available here
  • Riitters, K., Costanza, J.K. 2019. The landscape context of family forests in the United States: anthropogenic interfaces and forest fragmentation from 2001 to 2011. Landscape and Urban Planning. doi: 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2018.04.001Available here
  • Costanza, J.K., Faber-Langendoen, D., Coulston, J.W., Wear, D.N. 2018. Classifying forest inventory data into species-based forest community types at broad extents: exploring tradeoffs among supervised and unsupervised approaches. Forest Ecosystems 5:8. doi: 10.1186/s40663-017-0123-x Available here
  • Buma, B., Costanza, J.K., Riitters, K. 2017. Determining the size of a complete disturbance landscape: Multi-scale, continental analysis of forest change. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 189:642. doi: 10.1007/s10661-017-6364-x Available here
  • Costanza, J.K., Coulston, J.W., Wear, D.N. 2017. An empirical, hierarchical typology of tree species assemblages for assessing forest dynamics under global change scenarios. PLOS ONE 12(9): e0184062. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0184062 Available here
  • Wickham, J., Riitters, K., Vogt, P., Costanza, J.K., Neale, A. 2017. An inventory of continental United States terrestrial candidate ecological restoration areas based on landscape context. Restoration Ecology (In Press). doi: 10.1111/rec.12522 Available here
  • Riitters, K., Costanza, J.K., Buma, B. 2017. Interpreting multiscale domains of tree cover disturbance patterns in North America. Ecological Indicators 80:147-152. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.05.022 Available here
  • Terando, A.J., Reich, B., Pacifici, K., Costanza, J.K., McKerrow, A.J., Collazo, J. A. 2017. Uncertainty quantification and propagation for projections of extremes in monthly area burned under climate change: A case study in the coastal plain of Georgia, USA. In: Riley K, Webley P, Thompson M, editors. Natural Hazard Uncertainty Assessment: Modeling and Decision Support Geophysical Monograph 223. John Wiley & Sons. pp 245–56. doi: 10.1002/9781119028116.ch16 Available here
  • Costanza, J.K., Abt, R.C., McKerrow, A.J., Collazo, J. A. 2017. Bioenergy production and forest landscape change in the southeastern United States. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 9(5):924–939. doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12386 Available here
  • Tarr, N.M., Rubino, M.J., Costanza, J.K., McKerrow, A.J., Collazo, J. A., Abt, R.C. 2017. Projected gains and losses of wildlife habitat from bioenergy-induced landscape change. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 9(5):909-923. doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12383 Available here
  • Costanza, J.K., Beck, S., Pyne, M., Rubino, M., Terando, A., Collazo, J. 2016. Assessing climate-sensitive ecosystems in the southeastern United States. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1073, 278 pages. doi: 10.3133/ofr20161073. pdf
  • Riitters, K., Wickham, J., Costanza, J.K., Vogt, P. 2016. A global evaluation of forest interior area dynamics using tree cover data from 2000 to 2012. Landscape Ecology 31:137-148. (Special issue: Macrosystems ecology: Novel methods and new understanding of multi-scale patterns and processes). doi: 10.1007/s10980-015-0270-9 Available here
  • Costanza, J.K., Abt, R.C., McKerrow, A.J., Collazo, J.A. 2015. Linking state-and-transition simulation and timber supply models for forest biomass production scenarios. AIMS Environmental Science 2(2):180-202. doi:10.3934/environsci.2015.2.180 Available here
  • Costanza, J.K., Terando, A.J., McKerrow, A. J., Collazo, J. A. 2015. Modeling climate change, urbanization, and fire effects on Pinus palustris ecosystems of the southeastern U.S. Journal of Environmental Management 151:185-199. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2014.12.032 pdf
  • Noss, R., Platt, W., Sorrie, B., Weakley, A.S., Means, B., Costanza, J.K., Peet, R.K. 2015. How global biodiversity hotspots may go unrecognized: lessons from the North American Coastal Plain. Diversity and Distributions 21:236-244. doi: 10.1111/ddi.12278 pdf
  • Terando, A.J., Costanza, J.K., Belyea, C., Dunn, R.R., McKerrow, A.J., Collazo, J. 2014. The southern megalopolis: using the past to predict the future of urban sprawl in the Southeast U.S. PLOS ONE 9(7): e102261. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0102261 Available here
  • Costanza, J.K., Weiss, J., Moody, A. 2013. Examining the knowing-doing gap in conservation of a fire-dependent ecosystem. Biological Conservation 158:107-115. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2012.08.025 pdf
  • Costanza, J.K., Hulcr, J., Koch, F.H., Earnhardt, T., McKerrow, A.J., Dunn, R.R., Collazo, J.A. 2012. Simulating the effects of the southern pine beetle on regional dynamics 60 years into the future. Ecological Modelling 244:93-103. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2012.06.037 pdf
  • Costanza, J.K., Moody, A., Peet, R.K. 2011. Multi-scale habitat heterogeneity as a predictor of plant species richness. Landscape Ecology 26(6):851-864. doi: 10.1007/s10980-011-9613-3 pdf
  • Costanza, J.K. and Moody, A. 2011. Deciding where to burn: stakeholder priorities for prescribed burning of a fire-dependent ecosystem. Ecology and Society 16(1): 14. [online] URL: pdf
  • Costanza, J.K., Marcinko, S., Goewert A., Mitchell, C. 2008. Potential geographic distribution of atmospheric nitrogen deposition from intensive livestock production in North Carolina, USA. Science of the Total Environment 398:76-86. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.02.024 pdf
  • Hayes, M., Moody, A., White, P.S., Costanza, J.K. 2007. The influence of logging and topography on the distribution of spruce-fir forests near their southern limits in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA. Plant Ecology 189:59-70. pdf


  • Costanza, J.K. 2019. Review: climate change and land-use change as the biggest challenges to future connectivity. Conservation Corridor, February 26, 2019. Available here
  • Costanza, J.K. 2018. Newly revised & digitized range map of southeastern pine savannas and woodlands. South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative Newsletter, August 1, 2018. Available here
  • Cartwright, J.M., Costanza, J.K. 2016. Ecosystem vulnerability to climate change in the southeastern United States. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2016–3052, 4 pages. doi: 10.3133/fs20163052 pdf
  • Wilson, T., Costanza, J.K., Smith, J., Morisette, J. 2015. Second State-and-Transition Simulation Modeling Conference. Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 96(1):174-175. doi: 10.1890/0012-9623-96.1.174 pdf
  • Costanza, J.K. and Moody, A. 2011. Stakeholder priorities for deciding where to burn. Southern Fire Exchange Research Highlight 2011-1. Available here
  • Costanza, J.K., Earnhardt, T., Terando, A., McKerrow, A. 2010. Modeling vegetation dynamics and habitat availability in the southeastern U.S. using GAP data. In Maxwell, J., Gergely, K., and Aycrigg, J.L. editors. Gap Analysis Bulletin No. 18. USGS/BRD/Gap Analysis Program, Moscow, ID, USA. pdf
  • Costanza, J.K., Oberneufemann, K., Bucher, M. 2009. Assessment of LANDFIRE data in the Onslow Bight landscape, North Carolina. Report for The Nature Conservancy. Available here

  • Costanza, J.K. 2018. Southeastern pine savannas and woodlands boundary shapefile. Fileset. doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.6828848.v2 Available here