Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Modeling to save a rare plant

23.03.2016

GPS, satellite, on-site mapping help endangered plant

Human activities continue to expand. At the same time, an increasing number of plants face habitat loss and fragmentation. In fact, more than 700 plants are classified as endangered in the United States.


Janis Boettinger and Vance Almquist search for shrubby reed-mustard plants at Big Pack Mountain.

Photo credit Julie B. Baker

One such plant is the shrubby reed-mustard. Natural gas and oil extraction projects have increased in Northeastern Utah where the plant grows. The construction of roads and well pads has fragmented shrubby reed-mustard habitats. The species is at risk for extinction.

Plants provide us with vital resources such as food and medicines. They also reduce soil erosion and filter ground water. "We need to protect plant biodiversity to maintain ecosystems. Conserving rare plants like the shrubby reed-mustard is an important part of that effort," says Janis Boettinger. Boettinger is a soil scientist at Utah State University.

... more about:
»Agronomy »GPs »satellite »soil characteristics

Part of the challenge is not knowing exactly where the plants grow. To help, researchers at Utah State University developed a computer model. This model uses satellite imagery and elevation data to better understand where shrubby reed-mustard grows. It can also identify potential new habitats for this endangered plant.

Most of us are familiar with models. Researchers use models to predict everything from weather patterns and sports wins to stock market performance and voting results. Models are collections of information, layered like Lego blocks. For example, local weather reports use wind direction, humidity, and other weather patterns. The information reveals trends and can predict future results.

For the shrubby reed-mustard plant, soil data turns out to be a major building block in predicting habitat.

"Our idea was to find large-scale information -- such as soil color -- from pre-existing satellite maps and digital databases. We could then connect to the known locations of shrubby reed-mustard plants," says Boettinger.

The researchers already had GPS information for a number of sites where the plants were growing. Using satellite maps provided more visual clues. "We found that some of the soil characteristics where shrubby reed-mustard plants grow have a visual component that shows up on the satellite images," says study co-author Brook Fonnesbeck.

Shrubby reed-mustard plants only grow in lighter-colored shale soils of a unique rock formation. Surrounding soils without the plants are much redder and darker sandstone soils.

The researchers also visited several locations where shrubby reed-mustard plants grow. They noted surface features. They also measured soil characteristics.

Researchers layered on-site measurements with GPS and satellite information. This built the model to predict where other shrubby reed-mustard plants grow.

"With this model we can look at large areas very quickly," says study co-author Julie Baker. Baker is a soil scientist at USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. That's vital because the shrubby reed-mustard often grows in remote and rugged areas that are difficult to reach or survey.

The model worked with an accuracy of almost 70%. And the remaining 30%? "We were often very close to the presence of shrubby reed-mustard," says Boettinger, "but the satellite images didn't have the spatial resolution to be exact."

These models can provide an important tool for land managers. "It will help focus time, labor, and monetary efforts into areas with greater potential for success," Boettinger says.

More importantly, this method can also be useful for other plants that have a special niche, says Boettinger. "If a plant species grows in areas with distinct soil characteristics, this model can be very useful to identify and predict its habitat."

Read more about this research in SSSA Journal. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Utah State University Ecology Center supported this project.

Susan Fisk | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Agronomy GPs satellite soil characteristics

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New yeast species discovered in Braunschweig, Germany
13.12.2019 | Leibniz-Institut DSMZ-Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen GmbH

nachricht Saliva test shows promise for earlier and easier detection of mouth and throat cancer
13.12.2019 | Elsevier

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Virus multiplication in 3D

Vaccinia viruses serve as a vaccine against human smallpox and as the basis of new cancer therapies. Two studies now provide fascinating insights into their unusual propagation strategy at the atomic level.

For viruses to multiply, they usually need the support of the cells they infect. In many cases, only in their host’s nucleus can they find the machines,...

Im Focus: Cheers! Maxwell's electromagnetism extended to smaller scales

More than one hundred and fifty years have passed since the publication of James Clerk Maxwell's "A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field" (1865). What would our lives be without this publication?

It is difficult to imagine, as this treatise revolutionized our fundamental understanding of electric fields, magnetic fields, and light. The twenty original...

Im Focus: Highly charged ion paves the way towards new physics

In a joint experimental and theoretical work performed at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, an international team of physicists detected for the first time an orbital crossing in the highly charged ion Pr⁹⁺. Optical spectra were recorded employing an electron beam ion trap and analysed with the aid of atomic structure calculations. A proposed nHz-wide transition has been identified and its energy was determined with high precision. Theory predicts a very high sensitivity to new physics and extremely low susceptibility to external perturbations for this “clock line” making it a unique candidate for proposed precision studies.

Laser spectroscopy of neutral atoms and singly charged ions has reached astonishing precision by merit of a chain of technological advances during the past...

Im Focus: Ultrafast stimulated emission microscopy of single nanocrystals in Science

The ability to investigate the dynamics of single particle at the nano-scale and femtosecond level remained an unfathomed dream for years. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that nanotechnology and femtoscience gradually merged together and the first ultrafast microscopy of individual quantum dots (QDs) and molecules was accomplished.

Ultrafast microscopy studies entirely rely on detecting nanoparticles or single molecules with luminescence techniques, which require efficient emitters to...

Im Focus: How to induce magnetism in graphene

Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Depending on the shape and orientation of their edges, graphene nanostructures (also known as nanographenes) can have very different properties – for example,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The Future of Work

03.12.2019 | Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supporting structures of wind turbines contribute to wind farm blockage effect

13.12.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Chinese team makes nanoscopy breakthrough

13.12.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Tiny quantum sensors watch materials transform under pressure

13.12.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>