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Land Change Science Program

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Consequences of Landscape Dynamics for Biodiversity

Map depicting relative landscape quality for supporting biodiversity. This example is from a statewide prototype generated for Iowa. Relative landscape quality is calculated based on land cover and management, the distribution of the human population, and road density.
Map depicting relative landscape quality for supporting biodiversity. This example
is from a statewide prototype generated for Iowa. Relative landscape quality is
calculated based on land cover and management, the distribution of the human
population, and road density.
Changes in type and condition of land cover affect how well the landscape can support the ecosystem services on which we rely. We use remote sensors to monitor changes in landsurface responses resulting from the interplay of land use and climate, but collaborate with partners who monitor responses on the ground to understand how these remote observations relate to ecosystem services. Examples of our research include: (1) how land-use change in the Northern Great Plains affects the ability of beekeepers to support the national pollination needs of the U.S. agricultural industry; (2) how land-use change has completely altered the face of Iowa, homogenizing land-cover features that used to reflect a regional character and strongly altering the quality of the landscape for persistence of biodiversity; and (3) how changes in responses of vegetation and moisture monitored by satellite correspond with effects of weather on wetland hydroperiod and calling activity of wetland-dependent animal species monitored in situ. The quantitative relations we identify between the remote observations and the processes being influenced on the ground provide a foundation for projecting potential effects on ecosystem services from land use and climate futures and also informs us how best to tune our remote observations and related products to be responsive to the assessment needs of U.S. agencies and a variety of other stakeholders.

Understanding linkages between land surface responses we can monitor remotely and ground-based ecological processes and functions is key to providing information required by resource agencies and policymakers who need to assess outcomes from environmental and/or socioeconomic influences, national programs, and other drivers of land-use change.

Principal Investigator: Alisa Gallant, gallant@usgs.gov, EROS Center, Sioux Falls, SD

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