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Spatial changes in alpine treeline vegetation patterns along hiking trails in Glacier National Park, Montana Public Deposited

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https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_projects/44558f01z

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  • Sequential aerial photography was used to identify effects of hiking trails on the spatial distribution of subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) habitat at alpine treeline. Vegetation change over a 46 year period was compared along trails relative to areas without trails, at five study sites in the McDonald Creek drainage of Glacier National Park. Paired trail and nontrail test areas (22-35 ha each) were selected to be as identical as possible in all respects except for the presence of a hiking trail. Measured characteristics (number of patches, patch area, and edge density) were based on a morphological classification of subalpine fir vegetation (krummholz and patch forest) from black-and-white aerial photography. Results suggest that the number of small, discrete krummholz stands has increased at sites where trails are present relative to sites without trails. Terrestrial photography expanded the time scale considered, and supports the conclusion that fragmentation of krummholz is more evident along trails compared to areas without trails. However, other measures of change in krummholz and patch forest do not suggest a noticeable effect of trails over the area (278-ha total) studied.
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