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  • Landscape Biodiversity Lab

    Montana State University
    310 Lewis Hall
    Bozeman, MT 59717


    Andrew J. Hansen

    Tel: (406) 994-6046
    E-mail: hansen at


    Current Research

     Vegetation Structure indices and Biodviersity modeling in the Southeast US

    Contact: Linda Phillips

    Funding: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Project Overview:

    The overall science goal of this project is to link lidar remote sensing of vegetation structure with species distribution and abundance modeling to improve the characterization and predictability of biodiversity patterns in terrestrial ecosystems. In addressing this science goal, the MSU team will address questions regarding the interactions among Ecosystem Productivity and Canopy Structure with bird species richness and diversity. Research suggests species richness has a positive decelerating or unimodal relationship with productivity at broad spatial scales. Our previous research has found a unimodal relationship for bird species richness in North America. The current research will address questions regarding the causal factors of this relationship by incorporating state of the art vegetation structure data obtained from the LVIS sensor.

    In particular we seek to answer the following four questions:

    (1) For natural routes, what biophysical factors most explain variation in bird species richness and guild richness?

    (2) How much does vegetation structure contirubte to the models above relative to other predictor variables?

    (3) For all routes, how does land use modify richness from teh biophysical expectation?

    (4) What explains the downturn in richness at the highest annual GPP levels? Competitive dominance? Soil fertility? Disturbance history? Land use?

    This work will be performed for 59 Breeding Bird Survey routes that overlap the 2400 mile LVIS transect in the Southeast US. This southeast US transect was selected to sample the region of North America where primary productivity is intermediate and high and the relationship between productivity and bird species richness is negative (Phillips et al. 2010). The analysis will be performed at three spatial scales: BBS stop locations, 5 mean summary of stop locations, and entire BBS route. The general approach to the research is illustrated here.

    updated Oct 12, 2011