In the Chesapeake Bay region, conservation tillage is an important best management practice that is often emphasized in watershed implementation plans designed to meet water-quality objectives. Conservation tillage maintains crop residue on the soil surface, protecting soils from wind and water erosion, reducing moisture loss, and increasing soil carbon storage.
Ecosystems - Vegetation
Watershed restoration efforts have been made to rejuvenate vegetation, biological diversity, and land productivity at Cienega San Bernardino, an important wetland in southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. Previous research findings show that restoration supports and even increases vegetation health despite ongoing drought conditions in this arid watershed. However, the extent of restoration impacts is still unknown despite qualitative observations of improvement in surrounding vegetation amount and vigor.
The development of lidar as a tool for quantifying forest structure offers new solutions to longstanding challenges of measuring wildlife habitat. For example, wildlife biologists need to predict and map species distributions in order to identify priority areas for conservation and restoration, as well as to guide survey efforts. But when the species of interest inhabit the canopy of ancient forests in the Pacific Northwest, measuring the relevant features in complexly structured space high above the forest floor can be challenging.
Remote-sensing-based maps of tidal marshes, both of their extents and carbon stocks, have the potential to play a key role in informing greenhouse gas inventories and implementing climate mitigation policies. Despite multiple efforts to map tidal marsh aboveground biomass regionally, differences in plant communities and site characteristics pose limitations for scaling to the national level.
The USGS, in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is producing the most comprehensive remote-sensing-based quantification of western U.S. shrublands to date. Nine individual products are being produced that represent primary shrubland components. Component values represent the proportion (fractional vegetation) of each target component for every 30-m pixel.
Ecosystems - Wildlife
High-resolution aerial imagery was collected at Palmyra Atoll in October 2016. Collected data include color imagery for all islets at 3.7-cm resolution, multi-band imagery for most islets at 6.5-cm resolution, thermal infrared video, and color video. Imagery datasets are being used to assess vegetation composition, quantify habitat structure, identify relationships between vegetation and environmental variables, and census atoll wildlife populations.
Using aerial radio-tracking of wolves (Canis lupus) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the east-central Superior National Forest (northeastern Minnesota), this study examines the interaction of wolves, deer, and moose (Alces americanus). Wolves are on the Federal Endangered Species List and moose in Minnesota have been proposed for inclusion. Wolf numbers are estimated two ways: 1) aerially locating radio-collared wolf packs and observing their numbers, and 2) aerially snowtracking non-radioed wolf packs. Relationships between wolf numbers over
The USGS is now partnering with Utah State University (USU) and the Department of the Environment in Nunavut (DEN) to investigate wolves’ (Canis lupus) movements and spacing in the high Arctic. This follows the USGS 5-year study (summers 1986 – 2010) of the behavior of wolves habituated to humans on Ellesmere Island in northern Canada. Biologists from USU and DEN have been collaring wolves on Ellesmere with global positioning system (GPS) to study movements and spacing behavior year-round. The data are sent via satellite to websites used by all three agencies. Data have been ob
Energy and Minerals
An algorithm for the automated analysis of multispectral remote sensing data acquired by the Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) sensor has been developed that can efficiently identify surface occurrences of iron sulfate minerals. The algorithm combines thresholded band ratio results into displayed iron sulfate minerals, other minerals and vegetation groups using Boolean algebra.