Southwest Geographic Science Team

:: Wild Sheep Habitat

Current Research

Dall's sheep on Cathedral Mountain in DenaliResearch approach

For this study, wild sheep habitat is characterized using a multi-resolution, multi-temporal suite of remotely-sensed data linked to ground observations. Remotely-sensed data include: Landsat to map change in glacial and snowfield extent and landscape change, MODIS to capture landscape phenology, and Quickbird to capture vegetation pattern and structure. Historical aerial photography, topographic maps, and historical reports will be used for additional interpretation and to provide information on snow and ice distribution prior to satellite data.

Collecting sheep pellets in DenaliResearch efforts thus far have focused on collecting field data, processing Landsat data for the Denali and Wood River study areas, and utilizing Landsat and other remotely-sensed imagery to identify and map changes in glacial and snowfield extent that has occurred in the study areas. These products are further explained below. Initial predictive model development will begin in 2009, and will attempt to model future wild sheep habitat changes based on our research and other historical data.

The majority of research and collection of field data is being done by U.S. Geological Survey personnel in Flagstaff, Arizona.  However, 2008 collection of vegetation information and Dall’s sheep samples in the Mill Creek Valley area of the Wrangell Mountains was provided by students in the Alaska Wildlands Program at the Wrangell Mountains Center.   Click here to access the students’ final report on their project from Summer 2008 Dall’s sheep pellets were collected in the Wrangell Mountains and other locations by Gretchen Roffler, U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center.

Research Results:

Click on the links below to see results and analysis of remotely-sensed data and ground observations.

Remotely-sensed data:

    Changes in glacial and snowfield extents

Ground observations:

    Fecal Analysis
    Water Analysis
    Climate Data
    Vegetation mapping

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