Long-term Monitoring and Effectiveness Monitoring

Long-term Monitoring and Effectiveness Monitoring

For the past several years, USGS has taken a multi-faceted approach to monitoring the condition and trends in sagebrush steppe ecosystems. One such effort is using remote sensing and vegetation inventory and monitoring. The focus of this work is to develop remote sensing-based protocols that allow affordable, repeatable monitoring (through spatial projections) of sagebrush habitat of the entire WLCI region. This project (and associated remote sensing based mapping products) anchors the USGS long-term monitoring data collection and approach. Based on samples collected both in the field and from remotely sensed imagery, our protocols predict the percent cover for big sagebrush, Wyoming big sagebrush, all sagebrush species, all shrubs combined, herbaceous vegetation, litter, and bare ground, as well as shrub height, across the entire WLCI landscape. With repeated predictions over time, the USGS can evaluate and quantify the amount and distribution of change in the eight sagebrush habitat features. This information is critical for understanding current and future distribution and characteristics of sagebrush habitats, as well as the locations and rates of change.

Baseline predictions for the seven cover components (bare ground, herbaceous, litter, shrub, sagebrush, big sagebrush, and Wyoming big sagebrush) in the WLCI region were estimated with regression tree (RT) models that incorporated field measurements, QuickBird 2.4-m imagery, and Landsat 30-m imagery (for details, see Homer and others, 2012). The 2006 baseline predictions for the WLCI region were released as part of a statewide product. USGS used Landsat imagery from three dates (spring, summer, and fall) to perform the 2006 and 2010 change-detection analysis. The new predictions for 2010 were then compared to those predicted for 2006 to calculate the overall values in change.


  • Collect data from permanently marked QuickBird vegetation sampling sites to understand ground-based changes in vegetation patterns over time.
  • Continue to acquire and process the QuickBird and Landsat imagery required to support the large-area analysis of changes in vegetation patterns across the WLCI region.
  • Publish papers describing methods and results of the remote-sensing protocols, local effects and effectiveness research, and regional analyses of species and habitat monitoring data.
  • Work closely with the WLCI Interagency Monitoring Team to maintain an inventory of existing monitoring projects and protocols, and support communication and cooperation among agencies and offices to improve monitoring capabilities across the region.
  • Develop analyses and approaches that help to integrate field-based population and habitat condition assessments with remote sensing approaches to landscape monitoring to improve the context, content and resolution of information.

WLCI Long-Term Monitoring Data

Click HERE to visit the map.

Click HERE to view criteria for Monitoring Protocols.