Author : Watt-Gremm, G. Date : 2007. Title : Taking a good long look: disturbance, succession, landscape change and repeat photography in the upper Blakiston Valley, Waterton Lakes National Park. Publication : Unpublished MSc thesis. University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia. Issue : Page(s) :
Understanding historical disturbance and succession is a critical part of conservation biology and ecological restoration. Studies of forest dynamics can be augmented by qualitative and quantitative analyses of historical imagery, but these sources introduce data integration challenges and uncertainty. I examined successional patterns and disturbance dynamics in the upper Blakiston Valley, Waterton Lakes National Park, by analyzing changes in forest structure using field research, repeat photography and air photo interpretation. I sampled forest structural attributes in 23 stands regenerating from fires in the 1800's, and interpreted forest cover from oblique and aerial photographs from 1881, 1914, 1947 and 2004. I quantitatively compared the interpretation from oblique photographs to aerial photographs and GIS data, examining succession in light of environmental factors and historical disturbances. Successional patterns are dominated by transitions from open meadows and shrub lands to woodlands and closed forests, and from seral lodgepole pine to mature Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir forests. These patterns are related to a small number of environment and disturbance variables, especially elevation, potential radiation, and time since last recorded fire. Accompanying these trends is a decline landscape diversity. These findings have implications for restoration and conservation of subalpine forests in the park and across the region. Furthermore the GIS methods capture spatially approximate vegetation patterns from oblique photographs and show potential for further research, especially in combination with the photograph collection of the Mountain Legacy Project.