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Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Report

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The loss of biological diversity has become a global concern during the last decade (Wilson, 1988; Reid and Miller, 1989). The need to predict those species of concern and areas of high species richness is even more pressing as we enter an era of potential global climate change. Prerequisites to good decision-making with regard to the management of biological diversity are adequate floral and faunal inventories for the lands in question and a rigorous understanding of species-habitat relationships (e.g., Noss, 1983; Davis et al., 1990; Scott et al., 1990; Scott et al., 1993). The emergence of landscape ecology as a discipline has been instrumental in helping scientists understand spatial patterns of species distribution (Noss, 1983; Urban et al., 1987; Turner, 1989). Once these relationships are understood, it may be possible to predict species diversity based upon landscape level habitat analysis using geographic information systems (GIS) and remotely sensed data (Urban et al., 1987; Turner, 1989) at fine-scale resolutions (e.g., 20 - 50 meter sampling sites). Conversely, such analyses can help optimize sampling strategies or allow us to test hypotheses regarding the spatial correspondence of species diversity "hotspots" among taxonomic groups (e.g. Prendergast et al., 1993). The debate over global climate change has created renewed interest in documenting baseline variability in biodiversity. Goals of the Committee on Earth Sciences (1989) regarding the U.S. Global Change Research Program focus on the development of sound scientific strategies for monitoring and predicting environmental change. Key priorities, as noted by the committee, are as follows: "Systematic sampling and monitoring are essential to document critical natural versus human-induced change in the structure and function of globally relevant biological systems on various time scales." (Committee on Earth Sciences, 1989).