Document Type

Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Report

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This research project is part of an ongoing biodiversity inventory and monitoring effort that began in 1992. It involves using intensive, local field sampling to test for relationships between species distribution pattetns and remotely sensed data. We have been using a time series of satellite multispectral imagery for monitoring the extent, condition, and spatial pattern of montane meadows on a seasonal and interannual time scale. Spectrally-based, spatially­explicit models have been developed for six meadow types along a hydrological gradient. Statistically significant relationships were found between remotely sensed data and a large number of plant and animal species in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). We have shown that mesic meadows (meadows intermediate in the hydrological gradient) are the sites of highest plant species diversity and the sites of highest seasonal and interannual change. Our research during 2001 was specifically targeted to continue monitoring the plant and animal communities of the GYE with the goal of developing a list of indicator species and their present year-to-year variation. The rarity and low abundances of some of the species have limited our understanding of these patterns to the most common species. Thus, additional data will allow us to expand upon our understanding of these groups as indicators. We believe that these communities and their associated species may be some of the best indicators of environmental change in the GYE.