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Vegetation monitoring to detect and predict vegetation change: Connecting historical and future shrub/steppe data in Yellowstone National Park


Chong, Geneva; Barnett, David; Chemel, Benjamin; Renkin, Roy; Sikkink, Pamela. 2011. Vegetation monitoring to detect and predict vegetation change: Connecting historical and future shrub/steppe data in Yellowstone National Park. In: Anderson, Chamois, ed. Proceedings: Questioning Greater Yellowstone's Future: Climate, Land Use, and Invasive Species. Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. October 11-13, 2010, Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone National Park, WY. Laramie, WY: University of Wyoming, William D. Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources; Yellowstone Center for Resources. p. 84-92.

A 2002 National Research Council (NRC) evaluation of ungulate management practices in Yellowstone specifically concluded that previous (1957 to present) vegetation monitoring efforts were insufficient to determine whether climate or ungulates were more influential on shrub/steppe dynamics on the northern ungulate winter range. The NRC further recommended that the National Park Service employ more contemporary and acceptable "range" monitoring efforts in the future that allow for deterministic analyses of vegetation change. In response to these recommendations, we have begun to develop and test new, more robust methods for sampling vegetation on Yellowstone National Park's northern range, while maintaining a connection to over 50 years of historical data. In 2009 we sampled transects associated with existing vegetation exclosures using historical (transects) and new (multi-scale circular plots) methods simultaneously. In 2010 we expanded our methods comparison and collaborated with the National Ecological Observatory Network planning and design phase to map the occurrence of several non-native species of interest to the park. The overall objectives of the project are to provide: 1) a comparison of sampling methods, particularly their ability to detect changes in native and non-native species presence/absence and cover; 2) an expanded monitoring design that samples "missing" vegetation types and considers the landscape scale and the National Ecological Observatory Network northern range site; and 3) example forecasts of the presence of native and non-native species of interest under climate change scenarios. Here we provide an overview of the project to date.

Keywords: vegetation monitoring, Yellowstone National Park


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Vegetation monitoring to detect and predict vegetation change: Connecting historical and future shrub/steppe data in Yellowstone National Park
Electronic Publish Date: February 24, 2012
Last Update:
February 24, 2012

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