Montana State University

$1.8 million NASA grant helps parks prepare for climate and land use change

July 26, 2011 -- MSU News Service


Montana State University's Andy Hansen overlooks the Gallatin Valley. He was recently part of a team awarded a $1.8 million NASA grant to help Federal land managers administer changing landscapes, including those in southwest Montana. (Photo courtesy of Andy Hansen)   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu
A team of researchers led by a Montana State University ecologist are launching a four-year project to provide land managers in the country's federally managed lands with better information for dealing with climate and land use changes.

The $1.8 million NASA-funded project uses NASA remote-sensing data to help design management plans for public lands. According to MSU ecology professor Andrew Hansen, his team will use NASA satellite data to simulate how the ecosystems of two Landscape Conservation Cooperatives will change under forecasted climate and land use changes.

The 21 LCCs, designated by the Department of the Interior, collectively form a national network of land, water, wildlife, and cultural resource managers, scientists, and interested public and private organizations--within the U.S. and across international borders--that share a common need for scientific information and interest in conservation. These lands include National Parks, National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands.

"It's a big challenge because the LCCs are trying to figure out how to manage under future climate change," Hansen said. "It's also a big challenge because they are trying to figure out how to manage across different governmental agencies."

Hansen and his colleagues will look at past ecological trends and predicted future trends and assess the vulnerability of ecosystems and certain species to climate and land use change. The team will evaluate management options for the more vulnerable ecosystems and species within two LCCs. Then they will use the information to help the LCCs design management approaches for the vulnerable ecosystems and species.

The project will focus on portions of the Great Northern and Appalachian LCCs, both of which support critical biological resources and have already undergone climatic warming. The Great Northern LCC encompasses the Northern Rockies and Columbia Basin and the Appalachian LCC covers most of the Appalachian Range.

Hansen will be working with Scott Goetz from Woods Hole Research Center, Forrest Melton from California State University, Monterey Bay / NASA Ames, Bill Monahan from the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program, Ramakrishna Nemani from NASA Ames Research Center, Tom Olliff from NPS I&M and the Greater Yellowstone Network, and David Theobald from Colorado State University.

Andrew Hansen at 406-994-6046 or hansen@montana.edu