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Yellowstone National Park Report

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Summer range is not thought to be limiting to elk because abundant, high quality forage is available whereas a shortage of forage usually exists on elk winter ranges. Nevertheless, summer nutrition and fat reserves acquired on summer ranges influence growth, survival and reproduction of ungulates (Klein 1965, Verme 1963, 1965, Julander et al. 1961). The enormous area of summer range for the Northern Yellowstone elk herd renders detailed field surveys impractical. This study was initiated to evaluate the feasibility of using LANDSAT satellite imagery to (1) characterize vegetation communities on summer range from LANDSAT multispectral scanner (MSS) data and digitized vegetation maps of Yellowstone National Park, (2) predict plant production within grassland types and (3) correlate elk population characteristics with fluctuations in plant production and weather.