Long-Term Ecosystem States and Processes in Banff National Park and the Central Canadian Rockies
Contribution to Book
Aspen, elk, wolves, fire, and humans were used to assess the long-term ecosystem states and processes in Banff National Park and the Central Canadian Rockies. These components were selected because they effect both community structure and function, and because they can be used to judge ecosystem integrity. In addition, these species and processes have been susceptible to change during the period of European influence, and they are understood, at least to some degree, from previous research and monitoring. We used archaeological evidence, observations recorded by early explorers, aspen ecology measurements, historical and repeat photographs, and fire-history data to describe the ecosystem in pre-columbian times and during the late 1800s when Banff was established as Canada's first national park. For as Aldo Leopold noted over 40 years ago, "if we are serious about restoring ecosystem health and ecological integrity, then we must know what the land was like to begin win." We then compared the state of aspen, elk, wolves, fire, and human influences in pre-columbian times and ca. 1885, with conditions today, not only to understand what has changed and why, but also to measure the ecological integrity of the present system.
Kay, C.E. et al. 1999. Long-term ecosystem states and processes in banff national park and the central canadian rockies. Environment Canada.