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Using new video mapping technology in landscape ecology

January 1, 2000

Biological and ecological monitoring continues to play an important role in the conservation of species, natural communities, and landscapes (Spellerberg 1991). Although resource-monitoring programs have advanced knowledge about natural ecosystems, weaknesses persist in our ability to rapidly transfer landscape-scale information to the public. Ecologists continue to search for new technologies to address this problem and to communicate natural resource information quickly and effectively. New video mapping technology may provide much-needed help.

Ecologists realize that only a small portion of large nature reserves can be monitored because of cost and logistical constraints. However, plant and animal populations are usually patchily distributed in subpopulations scattered throughout heterogeneous landscapes, and they are often associated with rare habitats. These subpopulations and rare habitats may respond differently to climate change, land use, and management practices such as grazing, fire suppression, prescribed burning, or invasion of exotic species (Stohlgren et al. 1997b). In many national parks, monuments, and wildlife reserves, a few long-term monitoring plots are used to infer the status and trends of natural resources in much larger areas. To make defensible inferences about populations, habitats, and landscapes, it is necessary to extrapolate from a few monitoring plots (local scale) to the larger, unsampled landscape with known levels of accuracy and precision.

Recent technological developments have given population biologists and landscape ecologists a unique tool for bridging the data gap between small, intensively sampled monitoring plots and the greater landscape and for transferring this information quickly to resource managers and the public. In this article, we briefly describe this tool, a hand-held video mapping system linked to a geographic information system (GIS). We provide examples of its use in quantifying patterns of native and exotic plant species and cryptobiotic crusts in the new Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, Utah, and in surveying aspen clones and regeneration in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

Publication Year 2000
Title Using new video mapping technology in landscape ecology
DOI 10.1641/0006-3568(2000)050[0529:UNVMTI]2.0.CO;2
Authors T.J. Stohlgren, Margot W. Kaye, A.D. McCrumb, Yuka Otsuki, B. Pfister, C.A. Villa
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title BioScience
Index ID 1015100
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center