Determining Resilience of Slickspot Soils

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In arid areas of western North America, soil inclusions or patches called slickspot soils are saltier than adjacent soil and support different types of native vegetation. Remote sensing using aerial photographs may be an effective way to identify slickspot soils and vegetation that may be vulnerable to sagebrush restoration efforts that use drills to plant seeds or herbicides to control invasive vegetation. USGS scientists David Pyke and Scott Shaff and collaborators monitored slickspot size and cover of endangered slickspot peppergrass for 2 years to determine if these slickspots were affected by the application of the herbicide glyphosate or by a minimum-till drill in the Snake River Plain, Idaho. The researchers examined the use of aerial photographs versus on-the-ground measurements and concluded that slickspot sizes were not affected by these treatments.  To map the slickspots, conventional color aerial photography was flown and the imagery was classified using VegMeasure® software (Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon).

Louhaichi, M., Pyke, D.A., Shaff, S.E., Johnson, D.E., 2013, Monitoring restoration impacts to endemic plant communities in soil inclusions of arid environments: International Journal of Agriculture and Biology, v. 15, no. 4, p. 767-771.

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David Pyke
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