Monitoring - Habitat

Satellite Monitoring of Plant Productivity

Rationale

Siberian phlox
Siberian phlox

Some environmental changes are best understood by looking at entire landscapes. A "big picture" approach provides information about how entire ecosystems function and change. This can provide information that complements smaller scale monitoring activities. Parks Canada uses Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) satellite images to monitor landscapes. Of special interest is the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which is recorded by the AVHRR satellite. NDVI measures the productivity or growth of vegetation. AVHRR satellite images make it possible to monitor ecosystems within parks, their surrounding regions and across the north.

Objectives

  • To monitor possible changes of plant productivity in Aulavik, Ivvavik and Tuktut Nogait national parks.

Methods and Information Collected

  • Satellite monitoring of plant productivity is conducted for the Western Arctic Field Unit in Aulavik, Ivvavik and Tuktut Nogait national parks. This is part of a larger program that is conducted in 11 northern National Parks.
  • Satellite images are taken daily from 1 April to 21 October each year. The images are created by combining the best images taken over a 10-day period.
  • Analysis of satellite images is conducted by the Parks Canada Western Canada Service Centre in Winnipeg.
  • Sampling units changed in 2002 from 3x3 km sites to ecodistrict boundaries in order to best integrate the satellite data with available landscape and biological information.
  • A new statistical analysis method for the satellite images, fragmentation analysis, was also introduced in 2002. Fragmentation analysis is a method of measuring the ecological integrity of an area and will allow for the detection of change within each park.

Years of Data

  • 1997-ongoing

Partners

  • Parks Canada - Western Canada Service Centre (Winnipeg)
AVHRR satellite images for Ivvavik National Park.
Ivvavik National Park of Canada AVHRR False Colour Composite May 21-31, 2001 Ivvavik National Park of Canada AVHRR False Colour Composite July 21-31, 2001 Ivvavik National Park of Canada AVHRR False Colour Composite October 1-10, 2001
Ivvavik National Park of Canada AVHRR False Colour Composite May 21-31, 2001 Ivvavik National Park of Canada AVHRR False Colour Composite July 21-31, 2001 Ivvavik National Park of Canada AVHRR False Colour Composite October 1-10, 2001

Results

  • Data from 1997 to 2002 for Ivvavik, Tuktut Nogait and Aulavik national parks were analysed to determine changes in the NDVI.
  • Seven years of data were analysed to show that there is overall declining trend in NDVI, beginning in 1998. Late growing season onset is suspected to be the cause.
  • The table below summarizes the results of statistical fragmentation analysis of data for Aulavik, Ivvavik, and Tuktut Nogait national parks.

Change Over Time Within Ecodistricts
  PPU (relative size of NDVI patches) E (diversity of NDVI patch types SqP (relative complexity of shapes of NVDI patches in the park)
Aulavik National Park
increased slightly over time and varied among ecodistricts
increased with time amongst all ecodistricts
stable over time but differed significantly among ecodistricts
Ivvavik National Park
increased significantly over time but not across ecodistricts
increased with time amongst all ecodistricts
stable over time but differed greatly among ecodistricts
Tuktut Nogait National Park
did not increase significantly over time and differed only marginally amongt ecodistricts
increased slightly with time amongst all ecodistricts
stable over time but differed significantly among ecodistricts