Vegetation Composition and Structure

A researcher records data around a nested vegetation sampling plot.
Recording data from a nested vegetation sampling plot.

Vegetation is fundamental to ecosystem function, energy transfer, and element cycling. It drives ecosystem productivity, provides habitat and forage for wildlife, and food and materials for subsistence. Because vegetation responds directly to environmental drivers, it serves as a useful indicator of environmental change. Both remote sensing and ground-based monitoring approaches are being used to track changes in vegetation in focal plant communities, including sensitive communities.

Monitoring objectives are to:

  • Estimate long-term changes in species richness, abundance, and cover in focal ecosystems.

  • Estimate long-term changes in vegetation structure (physiognomy) and demography, including patterns of recruitment and mortality, and changes in above-ground biomass.

Vegetation composition and structure is monitored in Katmai and Lake Clark national parks and preserves and Kenai Fjords National Park.

Contacts: Michael Hannam and Amy Miller

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