Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Dr. Chadwick Rittenhouse; Dr. Howard Kilpatrick; Thomas Worthley

Field of Study

Natural Resources


Master of Science

Open Access

Open Access


Since the decline of agriculture in the state of Connecticut due to the opening of the Erie Canal, the land originally used for cropland reverted back to forest. During this time dense shrubland shade intolerant plants sprouted in the abandoned fields. The dense cover is known as early successional habitat and is utilized by many different species such as the New England cottontail, bobcat, and woodcock. These species use early successional habitat for a source of food, cover and shelter to survive. Currently disturbance events such as clearing land for agriculture, hurricanes, clear cuts, and fires are on a decline, preventing new early successional growth to occur on a large scale. With the decline of early successional habitat also comes the decline of the wildlife populations at utilize this habitat to survive. The study performed looks at a new method of identifying early successional habitat across the landscape of eastern Connecticut. A Terrain Ruggedness Index, which is a measure of habitat heterogeneity using magnitude, was designed to show the borders of early successional habitat. The terrain ruggedness index uses the center value in a 3x3 grid cell along with eight corresponding neighbors to determine its magnitude of difference in the landscape. The habitat maps created from the terrain ruggedness index have the potential to aid wildlife manager in locating extents of early successional habitat. It can help with the creation on new habitat, place live traps for wildlife assessments, and give locations that would be suitable for releasing animals from breeding programs.

Major Advisor

Dr. Daniel Civco