Post-1935 Changes in Forest Vegetation of Grand Canyon National Park

Project Type:  Outreach & Education
Project Status:  Completed

The surprise discovery in Grand Canyon National Park (GRCA) of some early 1900s photographs awaiting disposal led to a rare opportunity to examine forest change in the park since 1935. The photographs and associated data sheets documented a park-wide vegetation study from 1935 that generated the first ever GRCA vegetation map. In 2004, ecologist John Vankat led an effort to resample the historical plots, resulting in the first landscape-scale, quantitative study documenting 70 years of change in never-harvested Southwestern USA forests. Based on the results, Dr. Vankat describes where GRCA ponderosa pine, mixed conifer, and spruce-fir forests currently appear to exist in the cycle of forest development (accretion, inflection, recession). His findings suggest that GRCA forests display a wider range of ecological conditions and dynamics than previously thought.

Project Contact(s):

John Vankat
Senior Research Ecologist