Importance of Scientific Inquiry

Many of the change trends identified in the photo pairs have already been the subject of extensive research or observation.  Others have provided additional perspective for ongoing research, or raised additional questions that now await answers.

Regardless of how apparent a trend may be when viewing photo pairs, specific implications of these trends remain unknown due to the qualitative nature of photographic comparisons.  Rigorous sampling and quantitative analysis are required to give managers a better grasp on changes taking place and allow them to formulate a plan of action.

researcher measuring vegetation
NPS Photo / Kira Heeschen

Ongoing efforts by the National Park Service Inventory and Monitoring Program aim to fill this knowledge gap.  Park staff are currently working to install a network of permanent plots that will allow for detailed quantitative observations.  Systematically placed throughout Denali, plot will be sampled approximately once every ten years to record numerous measures of vegetation structure, composition, and distribution, as well as soil and other physical properties.  Data collected will allow quantitative analyses that may help explain the change trends detected in repeat photo pairs.

Back to Evaluation of Landscape Change