Research Profile

Marguerite Madden, Thomas Jordan, and the CGR

Wormsloe Park

Marguerite Madden and Thomas Jordan have collaborated with the Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History (WIEH) for the past six years conducting geospatial analysis of cultural and natural resources of the former Wormsloe Plantation and Wormsloe State Historic Site, located on the Isle of Hope just south of Savannah, Georgia. Wormsloe is the oldest property in Georgia to be held continuously by the same family and it has become one of the most significant and undisturbed historical sites in the Southeast. Established in 1736 by one of Georgia’s colonial founders, Noble Jones, and his wife, Sarah, the Wormsloe Plantation has been managed by nine generations of descendants of the Jones, De Renne and Barrow families. Approximately 822 acres of the original 1,200-acre property was transferred to the State of Georgia in the mid 1970’s and subsequently opened to the public as a historic site. Tommy and Marguerite began working at Wormsloe in 2007 when the Wormsloe Institute for Environmental History (WIEH) was founded by current owners, Craig and Diana Barrow, the Wormsloe Foundation and WIEH President and Director, Sarah Ross, to conserve this unique site while promoting the study of environmental history at Wormsloe within the context of the larger region of coastal Georgia. This past April, the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia voted to accept a gift of 15 acres of the Wormsloe property from the Wormsloe Foundation for interdisciplinary research by UGA faculty and graduate students working in geography, ecology, environmental history and archeology. The property will be known as the UGA Center for Research and Education at Wormsloe and will be the site of an educational housing facility currently being designed by the UGA College of Environment and Design. Tommy and Sarah Ross created a WIEH introductory video presentation to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wormsloe Library.

Wormsloe logo

Since the inception of WIEH, Geography’s Center for Geospatial Research (CGR), formerly the Center for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science, has conducted spatio-temporal research at Wormsloe and worked closely with researchers in other UGA departments to provide geospatial analysis and a rich database of current and historic ground photographs, maps, aerial photographs, digital terrain data, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and satellite imagery housed on CGR servers. To assess the historical impact of land use legacies on Wormsloe vegetation, Marguerite established 33 permanent plots representing major plant communities and land uses documented in an 1870 map. She also assisted Geography Emeritus Professors, Kathy and Al Parker, in a dendrochonological study of Wormsloe tree growth related to historical disturbances and climate change. Tommy created and maintains the WIEH geodatabase and website, http://www.wieh.org/. He also coordinates with faculty from the UGA CED Cultural Landscape Laboratory, Geology/Archeology Department, History Department, Odum School of Ecology and Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources to input all georeferenced data collected during sampling, inventory and experimental research at Wormsloe. Marguerite serves on the Wormsloe Scientific Advisory Council and she and Tommy both supervise students who have received Wormsloe Fellowships jointly funded by WIEH and the UGA Graduate School. Geography Wormsloe Fellows and their research topics include Andrew Parker (M.S. 2011, geovisualization of cultural features and accuracy assessment of LiDAR-derived bare earth digital elevation models), Carey Burda (M.S. 2011, evaluating the effects of land use legacies on vegetation patterns using discrete return LiDAR) and Nancy O’Hare (Ph.D. candidate, integrating field surveys, remote sensing and geospatial modeling to assess ecological function of conservation lands with an agricultural history).

This summer, Tommy, Marguerite and Geography Ph.D. students, Alessandro Pasqua and Sergio Bernardes, will use terrestrial LiDAR and unmanned aerial vehicle imagery to investigate the potential of historical upland rice cultivation at Wormsloe and help UGA-Ecology researchers, Andy Davis and Sonia Altizer, document vegetation structure in plots designed to conduct experiments on butterfly disease related to gardening with exotic plants. Tommy, Marguerite and CGR faculty/students are thrilled to be a part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers, planners, historians, land managers and students with a common goal of studying human-environmental interactions in coastal Georgia and conserving the natural and cultural heritage of Wormsloe.