Helen Mills: F & ES
The Sky Island archipelagos of the Sierra Madre Oriental and Occidental contain a unique array of flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. Yet, the vegetation dynamics of Madrean evergreen woodlands are little studied and poorly understood. The Stand structure and species composition of these restricted forests are thought to vary in response to climate, disturbance regime and historical land use. However, only a few studies have investigated the role of these factors in maintaining ecosystem health and species diversity.
This study uses remotely sensed imagery, stand structure analysis, cluster analysis and detrended correspondence analysis to quantify recent trends climate, fire and plant population abundance and spatial distribution in pine-oak woodlands of the Chihuahuan Desert Borderlands. This information will be used to implement fire and vegetation management practices and to predict the effects of recent changes in climate and fire on ecosystem structure and function.