Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Systems Ecology

Department or School/College

Division of Biological Sciences

Committee Chair

F. Richard Hauer

Commitee Members

John S. Kimball, Anna E. Klene, David D. Shively, Mark C. Rains, Scott L. Powell


ecosystem dynamics, landscape assessment, network theory, remote sensing, shifting habitat mosiac, thematic classification accuracy


University of Montana


Our ability to measure global climate change has generated dire predictions in global ecosystem conditions. These predictions have inspired efforts to develop assessment metrics that examine alterations in ecological condition resulting from climate dynamics. As climate change drives future watershed- or regional-scale assessment model development, many questions will need to be addressed concerning potential tool constraints. Chief among these will be: to what degree is ecosystem condition affected by anthropogenic disturbance, climate-driven disturbance or natural variability, both individually and in combination? As a first step toward assessing impacts on ecological condition resulting from climate driven spatial or temporal disturbance gradients, an assessment methodology would need to be developed for ecosystems with limited direct human land use disturbance. In the first of three case studies, I propose such an assessment methodology for Glacier National Park (GNP), Montana. This approach combines theoretical elements of biological and ecosystem structural assessments with approaches developed for risk and landscape assessments to approach to assist GNP with prioritizing natural resource monitoring and management and with informing the public on the current condition of the park's ecosystem. There has been increased accessibility to publicly available thematic maps derived from Landsat imagery that can be used to develop watershed or regional assessment tools in remote areas. Most remote sensing products have associated assessment of its error. However, the impacts of these uncertainties on landscape scale multi-metric management tools are poorly developed. In my second case study, I provide an approach that incorporates these errors into the assessment process. Finally, dynamics of ecosystem are rarely incorporated into assessment tools as a means to distinguish natural variability from one perturbed by climate or anthropogenic disturbance. The Shifting Habitat Mosaic Concept addresses variability of floodplain habitat patch composition and provides a platform to develop potential assessment metrics for dynamics in floodplain habitat condition as climate shifts. In the third case study, I document the influence of multiple disturbance regimes across several geomorphic settings through a remotely sensed, multi-decadal whole-river census as a step towards developing effective metrics that measure perturbations in the variability of floodplain condition.



© Copyright 2014 William James Kleindl