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Stephen Prisley

Professor, Forest Inventory and GIS

B.S., Virginia Tech (1980); M.S., Virginia Tech (1982); Ph.D., Virginia Tech (1989)


Interest Areas: Quantitative and spatial analyses of natural resources for management planning, including modeling of forest carbon inventories, inventory projection for wood supply planning, and evaluation of uncertainty in spatial decision-support systems.

Teaching Responsibilities
  • FOR 4114 Information Technologies for Natural Resource Management
  • FOR 5264 GIS Applications in Natural Resource Management
Selected Research Activities
  • Error analysis in Geographic Information Systems. GIS analyses are widely used by natural resource management organizations for a variety of spatial assessments. In many cases, the data for these assessments come from a combination of public and private sources, and an understanding of the error structure in spatial data sets is crucial to the proper interpretation of results. Research sponsored by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is underway to develop models of spatial uncertainty that can be applied in a decision-making framework to spatial analyses.
  • Modeling carbon in a managed forestry enterprise. In order to plan and prepare for a business environment in which credits for carbon sequestration can be traded in financial markets, forestry enterprises must be able to estimate the net effect of their activities on carbon pools and fluxes. Using forest inventory data, and inventory projection techniques, it is possible to simulate the effects of various management regimes on the carbon balance of an enterprise. As an example, USDA is sponsoring research in the effects of forest management activities on the amount of carbon stored in dead wood in pine plantations.
  • Indicators of sustainable management. The Bureau of Land Management is interested in developing indicators useful in planning and monitoring land management practices. The approach under investigation is to assess the value of data from samples of benthic macroinvertebrates, in conjunction with existing GIS data from the same watersheds, to develop indicators of ecosystem health.
Selected Publications
  • Amateis, R. L., S. P. Prisley, H. E. Burkhart, and J. Liu. 2006. The effect of physiographic region and geographic locale on predicting the dominant height and basal area of loblolly pine plantations. South. J. Appl. For. 30:147-153.
  • Bernard, A. and S.P. Prisley. 2005. Digital mapping alternatives: GIS for the busy forester. Journal of Forestry 103(4): 163-168.
  • Prisley, S.P. and M.J. Mortimer. 2004. A synthesis of literature on evaluation of models for policy applications, with implications for carbon accounting. For. Ecol. & Mgt. 198(1-3):89-103.
  • Kirschbaum, M.U.F., B. Schlamadinger, M.G.R. Cannell, S.P. Hamburg, T. Karjalainen, W.A. Kurz, S.P. Prisley, E.-D. Schulze, T.P. Singh. 2001. A generalized approach of accounting for carbon stock changes under the Kyoto Protocol. Environmental Science and Policy 4(2/3):73-85.
  • Murray, B.C., S.P. Prisley, R.A. Birdsey and R.N. Sampson. 2000. Carbon sinks in the Kyoto protocol: potential relevance for US forests. Journal of Forestry (98(9):6-11.
  • Schlamadinger, B., T. Karjalainen, R.A. Birdsey, M. Cannell, W. Galinski, A. Gintings, S. Hamburg, B. Jallow, M. Kirschbaum, T. Krug, W. Kurz, S. Prisley, E.D. Schulze, K.D. Singh, T.P. Singh, A.M. Solomon, L. Villers, Y. Yamagata. 2000. Afforestation, reforestation, and deforestations (ARD) activities. Pages 127-179 in R.T. Watson, I.R. Noble, B. Bolin, N.H. Ravindranath, D.J. Verardo, and D.J. Dokken, eds., Land Use, Land-use Change, and Forestry. IPCC Special Report. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
  • Van Deusen, P. C., S. P. Prisley, and A. A. Lucier. 1999. User perspectives on the National Forest Inventory System. Journal of Forestry 97(12):11-14.
  • Prisley, S.P. and J.L. Smith. 1991. The effect of spatial data variability on decisions reached in a GIS environment. In: GIS '99, Vancouver, BC. Forestry Canada, pp. 53-57. (Reprinted in GIS Applications for Natural Resource Management).
  • Prisley, S. P., T. G. Gregoire, and J. L. Smith. 1989. The mean and variance of area estimates in an arc-node geographic information system. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 55(11):1601-1612..
  • Prisley, S. P. and J. L. Smith. 1987. Using classification error matrices to improve the accuracy of weighted land-cover models. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 53(9):1259-1263.
Professional Achievements
  • Director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Geospatial Information Technology
  • CNRE Curriculum Clubs Award for Teaching Excellence, 2005
  • Chairman, Research Subcommittee on Forest Inventory and Analysis, American Forest & Paper Association. 1998 - 1999.
  • Member, Advisory Committee on USFS Southern Annual Forest Inventory System (SAFIS), 1998 - present
  • Forest Science & Technology Board, Society of American Foresters. Subject Area Representative for Resource Measurements, 1995-1998
  • Workgroup co-chair, Second Blue Ribbon Panel on Forest Inventory and Analysis (convened by AF&PA), 1997 - 1998
  • Member, Society of American Foresters
  • Founding President, Comarc GIS Users Group, 1984
    Dr. Stephen Prisley

  • (540) 231-7674
  • prisley@vt.edu
  • Forest Res & Environ Cons (0324)
    Cheatham Hall Suite 319
    310 West Campus Drive
    Blacksburg, VA 24061
    United States

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