Rheyna Laney

Professor, Global Studies Coordinator

Rheyna Laney
Rheyna Laney


Schulz Library 2nd Floor
Office Hours
12:15 pm-1:00 pm (in person DARW 31)
3:00 pm-4:00 pm Dr. Laney's Zoom
12:15 pm-1:00 pm (in person DARW 31)

My research focuses on agriculture and the environment and on land-use and land-cover change. Much of that work has been conducted in Africa, I have been working in the Andapa Region of Madagascar, where two large nature reserves are protecting tropical forests rich in biodiversity from deforestation. These reserves are causing enormous land pressure in surrounding communities. Populations are rising, and since the reserves have cut off their frontier, farmers are forced to intensify their production. In this context, I have been investigating whether farmers have been able to find environmentally positive ways to intensify their agriculture, or whether they have been having difficulties, and are degrading their landscapes. I then use remotely sensed imagery to explore the specific land-cover changes that are associated with these different trajectories of agricultural change.

More recently, I have been exploring market-crop production in this region. The Andapa Region has been involved in coffee and vanilla production for over 75 years. Yet farmers continue to focus principally on their subsistence production. This is a puzzle for economists, who assume that farmers will seek to maximize profits from the market. My research explores the economic, cultural and social reasons why farmers are choosing not to participate in the market.

Over the last five years, I have been working in the Northern Sacramento Valley of California, which is a very important stopover on the Pacific Flyway. My research focuses on the decision among rice growers to participate or not in projects designed to improve waterbird habitat. It also examines the landscape impact of these projects through remote sensing imagery.


Ph.D.—Geography, Clark University, 1999

M.A.— Geography, Clark University, 1995

B.A.— Environmental Science, University of California at Berkeley, 1986

Academic Interests
  • Cultural and Political Ecology
  • Agricultural Change and Development
  • Land Use and Land Cover Change
  • Remote Sensing
  • Africa
Selected Publications & Presentations

Laney, R. In review. Assessing Additionality, Cost-effectiveness and Permanence Among Payment-for-Environmental-Service Programs Targeting Shorebird Habitat on Agricultural Working Lands. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment

Laney, R. and Moses, R., 2020. The adoption of wildlife practices through a payments-for-environmental-services (PES) agri-environment scheme. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, pp.1-19.

Laney, R. Laney, R. and Turner II, B.L., 2015. The Persistence of Self-provisioning among Andapa, Malagasy Smallholders Human Ecology 43(6): 811-826.

Laney, R. 2004. A process-led approach to modeling land-change in agricultural landscapes: A case study from Madagascar. Special issue: From pattern to process: Landscape Fragmentation and the analysis of land use/land cover change - Edited by D.K. Munroe, J. Southworth and H. Nagendra Agricultural Ecosystems and Environment 101(2-3): 135-153.

Eastman, J. R. and R. Laney. 2002. Soft Classifiers for Sub-Pixel Evaluation: A Critical Evaluation. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 68(11):1149-1154.

Laney, R. 2002. Disaggregating Induced Intensification for Land Change Analysis: A case study from Madagascar. Annals of theAssociation of American Geographers 92(4):702-726.

Technical Reports and Documents

2016    Final Report to the California Fish and Wildlife: The long-term impacts of PES-supported agri-environmental projects in the Northern Sacramento Valley of California.

2013    Final Report to California Fish and Wildlife: A socio-economic and behavioral analysis of growers' decisions to adopt or reject conservation innovations sponsored through the NRCS Conservation Security Program

2009    Final Report and Data Repository Delivered to Miller Pacific Engineering Group: Reconstructing the history of gravel mining activity in the Yuba River through remote sensing analysis

2007    Final Report to the Federal Department of Fish and Wildlife: Analysis of habitat preferences of the Salt Water Harvest Mouse using Remote Sensing and GIS


Laney, R. 2016. Assessing additionality of a Payment for Environmental Services Project in the Northern Sacramento Valley. San Francisco: Association of American Geographers, April 2016

Laney, R. 2013. A Typology of Rice Grower Attitudes towards Conservation. Los Angeles: Association of American Geographers, April 2013

Laney, R. 2013. The Adoption of Water-bird Friendly Management Practices in the Rice-growing Region of Northern California. Squaw Valley, CA: Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, September, 2013.

Laney, R. 2008. Verifying Land Change Models with Satellite Imagery: Accommodating Disparate Sources of Variability and Error. Boston: Association of American Geographers, March 2008

Laney, R. 2005. Applying Agricultural Change Theory to Global Land-use Land-cover Change Theory, Graduate Studies Forum in Geography, U.C. Davis, May 2005.

Laney, R. 2004. Reviving the Forgotten Agrarian Question in Andapa, Madagascar. Philadelphia: Association of American, Geographers, April 2004

Laney, R. 2003. Farmer profiling: Identifying forces and factors driving agricultural change in Madagascar 's vulnerable landscapes. New Orleans: Association of American Geographers, March 2003

Laney, R. 2001. Scale Blindness and Misleading Debates In Agricultural Change Theory. New York : Association of American Geographers, February 2001.

Laney, R. 2000. The “Fit” with African Land Use Patterns: Household surveys, multi-spectral image classification, spatial aggregation of land use/cover classes, and their translation with LCCS. Invited paper, Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, Focus 1 Workshop: Meeting in the Middle, October 16-21, 2000, Italy.

Laney, R. 2000. Panel Presentation: "Reflections on Cultural/Political Ecology II: Which Direction Now?" Pittsburgh: Association of American Geographers, April 2000.

Laney, R. 2000. Using Remotely Sensed Data in Agricultural Change Research: A Critical Assessment. Pittsburgh: Association of American Geographers, April 2000.