Evaluating Methods for Remote Sensing of Nitrogen in Sagebrush

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Sagebrush communities occupy about 150 million acres of arid and semiarid shrublands in the western United States. Because little is known about how vegetation functions in arid ecosystems, the USGS and Idaho State University evaluated several techniques for remotely sensing nitrogen in sagebrush leaves. Low-cost methods to estimate leaf nitrogen could help answer questions about controls on canopy photosynthesis, carbon cycling, nutrient dynamics, and postfire recovery. Further investigation into aerial remote sensing of nitrogen concentration is important despite challenges of open-canopy systems, such as the confusing influence of bare ground. Ground-based estimates of canopy nitrogen using leaf mass measurements were consistently better than ground-based estimates using cover and height measurements. Overall, the results of this study are encouraging for future landscape-scale estimates of plant nitrogen in arid lands.


Author Name
Matthew Germino
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