Digital cameras open new view of America's West

Sep 06, 2011

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aerial photography survey of 38,000 wildfire-burned acres in Idaho provided what is believed to be the first evidence that the invasive leafy spurge weed is displacing seedlings of native mountain big sagebrush.

Terry Booth, a rangeland specialist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Rangeland Resources Research Unit in Cheyenne, Wyo., designed the using a technique he developed called Very Large Scale Aerial (VLSA) imagery. The survey of Idaho's "Deep Fire Burn" was done with two cameras at different resolutions aboard a Moyes-Bailey Dragonfly two-seat, light-sport airplane flying just over 300 feet over the area.

ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.

Booth found the high-resolution aerial photography technique, usually using three cameras, a good way to sample large areas of the western United States. When supplemented by ground-based methods, it can be used for early detection of invasive species that might threaten native plant populations.

Pesticides and biological-control insects were used to control leafy spurge before and after the wildfire. But the survey, done three years after the fire, showed that leafy spurge still managed to expand in drainage areas and up canyon slopes.

One advantage of this type of is that it can be routinely repeated, to keep checking on whether the pesticides or insects are working.

Booth received funding and technical assistance from the U.S. Department of the Interior's (BLM).

The survey technique was made possible by advances in digital cameras, image sensors, storage media, and image processing.

Besides Idaho, Booth has also done aerial surveys in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, looking at a variety of vegetation, including invasive and native trees, Juniper woodlands, grasslands, and shrublands-on sites as diverse as gas pipeline rights-of-way and riverbanks.

Explore further: Diabetes drug found in freshwater is a potential cause of intersex fish

More information: Booth published a paper on this research in the Native Plants Journal.

Related Stories

Aerial Imagery System Helps Save Water

Sep 15, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists are developing a system that saves water by using aerial imagery and ground-based sensors to determine the irrigation needs of small sections ...

Interior: Grouse listing warranted but precluded

Mar 05, 2010

(AP) -- The Interior Department announced Friday that it won't list sage grouse as endangered or threatened but will classify the bird among species that are candidates for federal protection.

Livestock Can Help Rangelands Recover from Fires

Oct 01, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A 14-year study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Oregon found that rangelands that have been grazed by cattle recover from fires more effectively than rangelands that have ...

Recommended for you

Rare dune plants thrive on disturbance

2 hours ago

Beginning in the 1880s, coastal dunes in the United States were planted with European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) in an attempt to hold the sand in place and prevent it from migrating. The grass did th ...

Avoid 'crape murder' with limited pruning

11 hours ago

Efforts to prevent people from committing "crape murder" are reducing the number of unsightly, knobby-knuckled branch ends but may leave people wondering how to correctly shape crape myrtles.

Thai customs make new three-tonne ivory seizure

12 hours ago

More than three tonnes of elephant ivory have been found at a Thai port stashed in a container shipped from Kenya, customs said Monday, the second huge haul of tusks from Africa in less than a week.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.