Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA satellites assist states in estimating abundance of key wildlife species

09.08.2018

Climate and land-use change are shrinking natural wildlife habitats around the world. Yet despite their importance to rural economies and natural ecosystems, remarkably little is known about the geographic distribution of most wild species - especially those that migrate seasonally over large areas.

By combining NASA satellite imagery with wildlife surveys conducted by state natural resources agencies, a team of researchers at Utah State University and the University of Maryland, and the U.S. Geological Survey modeled the effects of plant productivity on populations of mule deer and mountain lions. Specifically, they mapped the abundance of both species over a climatically diverse region spanning multiple western states.


Mountain lions are the most common predator of mule deer in western North American ecosystems; their distribution, abundance, and population trends are closely tied to those of their prey (adult female in the Oquirrh Mountains, Utah)

Credit: photo by D. Stoner


The mule deer is a common, widely distributed species closely monitored throughout western North America because of its economic value as a big game species (mule deer during fall migration, Oquirrh Mountains, Utah)

Credit: photo by D. Stoner

These models provide new insights into how differences in climate are transmitted through the food chain, from plants to herbivores and then to predators. Prey and predator abundance both increased with plant productivity, which is governed by precipitation and temperature. Conversely, animals responded to decreases in food availability by moving and foraging over larger areas, which could lead to increased conflict with humans.

David Stoner, lead author of the study, "Climatically driven changes in primary production propagate through trophic levels" published today in the journal Global Change Biology, remarked that, "We expected to see that satellite measurements of plant productivity would explain the abundance of deer. However, we were surprised to see how closely the maps of productivity also predicted the distribution of the mountain lion, their major predator."

The study also reveals a disruption in the way scientists study the biosphere. Joseph Sexton, Chief Scientist of terraPulse, Inc. and a coauthor on the study, described the changing technology, "Up until about a decade ago, we were limited to analyzing landscapes through highly simplified maps representing a single point in time.

This just doesn't work in regions experiencing rapid economic or environmental change--the map is irrelevant by the time it's finished." Now, given developments in machine learning, "big data" computation, and the "cloud", ecologists and other scientists are studying large, dynamic ecosystems in ever-increasing detail and resolution.

"We're now mining global archives of satellite imagery spanning nearly forty years, we're updating our maps in pace with ecosystem changes, and we're getting that information out to government agencies and private land managers working in the field".

The authors predict that, by enabling land managers to monitor rangeland and agricultural productivity, forest loss and regrowth, urban growth, and the dynamics of wildlife habitat, this expanding stream of information will help humanity adapt to climate and other environmental changes.

Stoner noted, "State wildlife agencies are tasked with estimating animal abundance in remote and rugged habitats, which is difficult and expensive. Integration of satellite imagery can help establish baseline population estimates, monitor environmental conditions, and identify populations at risk to climate and land-use change."

Media Contact

David Stoner
david.stoner@usu.edu
435-797-9147

https://qcnr.usu.edu/ 

David Stoner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14364

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanocages in the lab and in the computer: how DNA-based dendrimers transport nanoparticles
19.10.2018 | University of Vienna

nachricht Less animal experiments on the horizon: Multi-organ chip awarded
19.10.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Goodbye, silicon? On the way to new electronic materials with metal-organic networks

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.

Silicon, a so called semiconductor, is currently widely employed for the development of components such as solar cells, LEDs or computer chips. High purity...

Im Focus: Storage & Transport of highly volatile Gases made safer & cheaper by the use of “Kinetic Trapping"

Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles

Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...

Im Focus: Disrupting crystalline order to restore superfluidity

When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.

We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...

Im Focus: Micro energy harvesters for the Internet of Things

Fraunhofer IWS Dresden scientists print electronic layers with polymer ink

Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...

Im Focus: Dynamik einzelner Proteine

Neue Messmethode erlaubt es Forschenden, die Bewegung von Molekülen lange und genau zu verfolgen

Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Conference to pave the way for new therapies

17.10.2018 | Event News

Berlin5GWeek: Private industrial networks and temporary 5G connectivity islands

16.10.2018 | Event News

5th International Conference on Cellular Materials (CellMAT), Scientific Programme online

02.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gravitational Waves Could Shed Light on Dark Matter

22.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanocages in the lab and in the computer: how DNA-based dendrimers transport nanoparticles

19.10.2018 | Life Sciences

Thin films from Braunschweig on the way to Mercury

19.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>