Plant growth: Primary productivity

Elk Island National Park

Primary productivity is a measure of vegetation growth and biomass in the terrestrial ecosystem. Differences can indicate changes in the ecosystem as a result of fire, drought, or in the grassland environment, a large shift in the type of vegetative cover such as forest encroachment over open grasslands. Losses in grassland cover can have changes on what plant and animal species are found in the park and how the grasslands are affected by periods of flooding and drought.

Satellite images during the peak growing season in mid-July are analyzed by specialized computer programs that calculates the annual volume of plant growth. This analysis is conducted every 5 years and assesses the entire park landscape. Significant changes in the primary productivity helps in monitoring changes in nutrient cycles and even vegetation cover types.

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