Southwestern Wyoming is home to large open landscapes that support a wide variety of wildlife species. Five priority habitats—sagebrush, mountain shrub, aspen, riparian, and aquatic communities--have been identified as focal areas that provide crucial habitat for deer, elk, pronghorn, sage-grouse, and a variety of fish as well as non-game bird and mammal species. Information on the condition and distribution of priority habitats and of wildlife populations that rely on these habitats is needed to inform resource planning. WLCI habitat conservation projects aim to preserve or improve condition in these priority habitats, but it is important to know which conservation management projects work and how well. The WLCI is a large landscape and often, new and innovative measurement techniques are necessary in order to maximize data collection while minimizing staff time and expense.
In the WLCI region, USGS studies are identifying condition, trends, and important ecological functions in semi-arid woodlands, investigating extent and trends of sagebrush die-off, and the interaction of groundwater, surface water, and streamflow on aquatic communities. Several studies focus on gathering information on key wildlife species or communities, including fish communities, mule deer, and elk. USGS scientists are also developing new and innovative techniques to combine field data with remotely sensed data to monitor vegetation change, efficiently with great accuracy and reduced investment of staff field time.
- covertype and vegetation distribution maps
- vegetation and photo databases
- trend analyses
- models combining satellite data, vegetation field data, and ground-based sensors for measuring plant green-up
- models that evaluate multiple factors (climate/drought, land use change) affecting vegetation trends
- professional papers