Park ornithologist at the time, he would drive to a designated spot and identify the birds there. Then he'd drive another half mile, repeat the process and continue until he had stopped 50 times in 24.5 miles for the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Trying to finish before the birds quit singing, he'd ignore the scenery as best he could and try not to let the traffic bother him.
"You have to start very early and have to be done about 9:30. Birds stop singing about 9:30," McEneaney said. "You have to really hustle from point to point."
McEneaney no longer works for the National Park Service. He retired in November. But the information he gathered is part of a new Montana State University study that looks at biodiversity across North America. Thousands of bird watchers and a satellite sensor developed at the University of Montana yielded data for the continental study.
"I had a feeling somebody would use it somehow," McEneaney said.
MSU's results will be described in at least three scientific papers, the first to be published this summer in the journal "Remote Sensing of the Environment," said Linda Phillips, lead author and a research scientist at MSU. Co-authors are Andy Hansen, an MSU ecologist; and Curtis Flather with the USDA Forest Service in Fort Collins, Colo.
The paper reports that the UM satellite sensor, a Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, works far better than other types of remote sensing technology for broad-scaled ecological studies, Phillips said. First launched in 1999 on the Terra satellite, MODIS improves on previous technology and provides more comprehensive measures of vegetation.
"In simple terms, MODIS is like an expensive Nikon camera compared to a pocket disposable camera for picture quality," said Steve Running of UM, Regents Professor of Ecology and director of the Numerical Terradynamics Simulation Group.
"It is very difficult to study bird breeding habitat over large area from ground surveys, as birds are so mobile," he added. "MODIS allows a broad regional view of the landscape similar to the view birds have from the air."
Running and a team at UM developed MODIS. The sensor detects information about vegetation across North America and sends it to a clearinghouse in Sioux Falls, S.D.
The bird data for MSU's study came from thousands of bird watchers -- mostly volunteers --who participated in the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The survey is a joint effort of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service to monitor the status and trends of some 400 bird populations. It began about 40 years ago.
The bird watchers, using the same techniques as McEneaney, covered almost 3,500 routes in the continental United States, Canada and Alaska, Phillips said. MSU obtained their reports from a clearinghouse in Maryland, then analyzed 1,390 of the routes and combined the results with those from MODIS.
"I'm sure the volunteers had no idea we would be using their data in such a sophisticated way," Phillips said.
Hansen said, "It's a really neat example of how volunteer efforts, mixed with NASA satellite program, allow us to learn things we never would have thought possible to examine at a national scale."
MSU's study typifies the kind of research conducted in his Landscape Biodiversity Lab and speaks well of the Montana University System, Hansen said.
"Who would have thought that our local universities were designing satellite sensors, being responsible for putting them in space, generating all this data and now we are using that data across the continent for understanding things like conservation and land use issues?" Hansen commented.
The next two papers from MSU's study will focus on ecological and management findings, the researchers said.
To read another story about a widespread ecology project involving MSU, see http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwview.php?article=5941&log
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or email@example.com
Evelyn Boswell | EurekAlert!
Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences