Modeling Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Montane Meadows and Biodiversity in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

EPA Grant Number: R825155
Title: Modeling Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Montane Meadows and Biodiversity in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Investigators: Debinski, Diane , Jakubauskas, Mark E. , Kindscher, Kelly
Institution: Iowa State University , University of Kansas Main Campus , University of Oklahoma Norman Campus
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: October 1, 1996 through September 30, 1999
Project Amount: $709,640
RFA: Ecological Assessment (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration , Ecosystems


Understanding the factors which control the spatial distribution of biological diversity requires an intimate knowledge of the interaction between a landscape's composition and its physiognomic arrangement. We propose to model ecological dynamics in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE), concentrating specifically upon the spatial and temporal dynamics of montane meadow communities. Furthermore, we will examine the effects of this habitat variability upon plant, bird and butterfly biodiversity. The GYE is an excellent area for assessment of environmental change because it is one of the largest intact ecosystems in the continental U.S. and is as pristine a site as can be found in the lower 48 states.

This research project is part of an ongoing effort that began in 1993. Our long-term goal was to develop predictive species assemblage models based upon landscape level habitat analysis. This involved using intensive, local field sampling to test for relationships between species distribution patterns and remotely sensed data. Statistically significant relationships were found between remotely sensed data and a large number of plant and animal species in the northern GYE. Our next goal is to test the predictability of our models at different spatial scales and in a region that is 200 miles south. Specifically our objectives are to: 1) quantify the spatial and temporal variability in montane meadow communities; 2) develop a spectrally-based spatially-explicit model for predicting plant and animal species diversity patterns in montane meadows; and 3) test the spectrally-based spatially-explicit model for predicting plant and animal species diversity patterns in montane meadows.

Montane meadow communities can function as early indicators of change because they are highly sensitive to variations in precipitation and temperature. However, before an accurate estimation of directional change rates may be made with confidence, the seasonal and interannual rates of change inherent to a system must be quantified. We will use 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, spatially-explicit models will be developed for six meadow types using a GIS to stratify the study area by topography and geology.

The innovative aspects of this research are: 1) using remotely sensed data to predict biodiversity across a landscape, as opposed to predicting single species presence or absence; 2) using fine-scale data to predict other locations of species; and 3) development of a model for detecting sites of high species diversity and potential habitats of rare species that could be applied to other ecosystems.

The outcome of this research will be a mechanism for estimating and monitoring species distribution patterns at a landscape scale. We expect that species that exhibited statistically significant relationships with remotely sensed habitat types during 1993-1995 will show the strongest relationships in the southern GYE. We also expect that mesic meadows will be the sites of highest species diversity and the sites of highest seasonal and interannual change.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 39 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 10 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

landscape, indicator, scaling, Montane meadow, biodiversity, modeling, Yellowstone, RFA, Air, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, exploratory research environmental biology, Chemical Mixtures - Environmental Exposure & Risk, State, climate change, Air Pollution Effects, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Monitoring/Modeling, Ecological Effects - Human Health, Atmosphere, Ecological Indicators, risk assessment, ecological effects, habitat, Montane Lotic ecosystem, scaling, predictive species model, environmental monitoring, biodiversity, ecosystem assessment, Yellowstone, ecological assessment, GIS, landscape characterization, spatial and temporal patterns

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Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1997 Progress Report
  • 1998
  • Final Report