Montane Meadows as Indicators of Environmental Change

  • Diane M. Debinski
  • Mark E. Jakubauskas
  • Kelly Kindscher


We used a time series of satellite multispectral imagery for mapping and monitoring six classes of montane meadows arrayed along a moisture gradient (from hydric to mesic to xeric). We hypothesized that mesic meadows would support the highest species diversity of plants, birds, and butterflies because they are more moderate environments. We also hypothesized that mesic meadows would exhibit the greatest seasonal and interannual variability in spectral response across years. Field sampling in each of the meadow types was conducted for plants, birds, and butterflies in 1997 and 1998. Mesic meadows supported the highest plant species diversity, but there was no significant difference in bird or butterfly species diversity among meadow types. These data show that it may be easier to detect significant differences in more species rich taxa (e.g., plants) than taxa that are represented by fewer species (e.g., butterflies and birds). Mesic meadows also showed the greatest seasonal and interannual variability in spectral response. Given the rich biodiversity of mesic montane meadows and their sensitivity to variations in temperature and moisture, they may be important to monitor in the context of environmental change


biodiversity butterflies birds climate change montane vegetation remote sensing Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane M. Debinski
    • 1
  • Mark E. Jakubauskas
    • 2
  • Kelly Kindscher
    • 3
  1. 1.Dept. of Animal EcologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  2. 2.Kansas Applied Remote Sensing (KARS) ProgramUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  3. 3.Kansas Biological SurveyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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