• conservation;
  • forest ecology;
  • landscape analyses;
  • New York City;
  • urbanization

Human activities and forest-landscape structure are examined along a belt transect that extends 140 km from New York City to northwestern Connecticut. The study quantifies urban structures (population density, land use. transportation) and processes (population growth, urban land development) in the transect, and tests for relationships with the distribution, sizes, and shapes of forests. Our results identify distinct characteristics of urban and suburban environments based on the landscape structure of native forest vegetation. These findings are applicable to the management of natural areas along a gradient of urbanization.