Habitat Dynamics

Science Center Objects

The Habitat Dynamics Project examines how short and long-term changes in the environment affect the distribution and survival of wildlife populations. 

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Changes in snow cover, vegetation greenness, and sea ice in 1982 are displayed in 10-day intervals from April to early October

Every year, the Arctic dramatically changes as the landscape transitions between winter and summer. Here, the changes in snow cover, vegetation greenness, and sea ice in 1982 are displayed in 10-day intervals from April to early October.  Satellite remote sensing products such as these provide a valuable archive from which to better understand how climate variability and climate change affect wildlife habitats worldwide.
​​​​​​​(Credit: David Douglas, USGS. Public domain.)

An overarching strategy of the Project is to develop new methods that integrate satellite telemetry, remote sensing, meteorology, and GIS technologies. Studies focus on Department of Interior priorities by emphasizing the growing need to understand how changes in climate or land use practices affect wildlife migrations, habitat availability, habitat quality, and population dynamics. Climate is an overarching force that shapes suitability of wildlife habitat resources. Understanding linkages between the physical and biological environment is critical for making informed management decisions in the face of accelerating climate change and expanding human activities.

Emphasis of the Habitat Dynamics Project is placed on the Arctic, where species synchronize their reproductive and migration cycles with the landscape’s pronounced seasonal changes. The Project uses a variety of environmental data sources derived primarily from satellite remote sensing, and a variety of wildlife data through collaborations with other principal investigators.

Most studies fall under one of three general themes:

  1. observed and future changes in Arctic sea ice and the implications to polar bears and walruses
  2. variations and trends in the timing of spring vegetation growth and the implications to herbivores such as caribou and geese
  3. dynamics of daily wind conditions and the implications to bird migrations.


Near-real-time sea ice monitoring and analysis
Arctic Sea Ice News, National Snow and Ice Data Center
Ice Analysis Products, National Ice Center
Arctic Sea-Ice Monitor, Arctic Data System
Daily AMSR2 Sea Ice Maps, University of Bremen

Future sea ice forecasts and projections
IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate
Changes in Sea Ice Cover, IPCC (see Chapter 12, Section
Projections of an Ice-Diminished Arctic Ocean, Polar Science Center, UW
Sea Ice Prediction Network, ARCUS

Monitoring Vegetation Phenology with NDVI
Global NDVI time-series data, 1982-2016, Univ of Arizona
Global NDVI time-series data, GIMMS_3g, NASA
Global MODIS Global Subsets & Visualization , Oakridge National Lab
U.S. and Alaska eMODIS time series, USGS, 2000-present
U.S. Phenology Metrics, USGS
Alaska Phenology Metrics, GINA, Univ of Alaska
NOAA Global Vegetation Health, 1982-present

Climate data and data visualization portals
Large collection of web sites, variables and time scales, NOAA
Climate explorer, KNMI
Global wind, ocean current, SST dynamics, Cameron Beccario©
Global weather visualization portal

Satellite tracking animals
Satellite tracking data archive and acquisition portal, Movebank.org
Satellite tracking and analysis tool, Seaturtle.org
Arctic wildlife tracking data, USGS
The Argos System