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Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center

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The picture is a LandSat image of the Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island, and demonstrates the remarkable diversity of landcover that ranges from sea level to the summit of Mauna Kea.  At nearly 14,000 ft above sea level, the alpine peak of Mauna Kea is devoid of plant life and has a brownish appearance.  The greens of various vegetation communities slope down toward to the right, passing from treeline through montane forest and into agricultural lands along the coast.

Mapping and Remote Sensing

In recent decades, advances in remote sensing have enabled us to measure, map and monitor Earth’s ecosystems from far above the ground. Advances now allow us to collect imagery of such high resolution that plant communities can be mapped and vegetation structure visualized. With the latest Geographic Information System (GIS) software, these layers of remotely sensed data can be combined with maps of climate, soil, precipitation and other factors to develop models of past and present species distributions, as well to predict future distributions given likely changes in climate, ecology, and human development. Distribution maps allow natural resource managers and decision makers to evaluate and monitor the effects of changing conditions and management actions.


Project Lead Scientist
Coastal Inundation Models Michelle Reynolds
Plant Distribution Maps Jim Jacobi
Molokai Vegetation Maps Jim Jacobi
Kauai Vegetation Maps Jim Jacobi
Hawaii-GAP Jim Jacobi
Hakalau Forest NWR Bird Distributions Eben Paxton | Q-Hui

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