Among the major components of the ecosystem, vegetation is well suited for study using repeat photos simply because it doesn’t move around like animals do!
We can learn a lot by inspecting visual patterns in the vegetation, but evaluating change in ecological systems can be tricky. Some of the changes we see in the photos reflect natural, cyclical processes and have likely been occurring along similar pathways for millennia, while other changes we have observed may be harbingers of major upheavals in Denali’s ecosystems caused by human alterations of the environment locally or world-wide.
It is sometimes difficult to make clear distinctions between these types of change, which can be intertwined. Explore this section to learn about factors influencing the distribution of vegetation, and best prepare yourself to interpret patterns and changes exhibited in the photo pairs.