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Invasive leafy spurge weed: Digital cameras open new view of America's West

Date:
September 6, 2011
Source:
USDA/Agricultural Research Service
Summary:
An aerial photography survey of 38,000 wildfire-burned acres in Idaho provided what is believed to be the first evidence that the invasive leafy spurge weed is displacing seedlings of native mountain big sagebrush.

An ARS aerial survey from a light sport plane has found the first evidence that the invasive weed leafy spurge is displacing seedlings of native plants three years after Idaho's "Deep Fire Burn" wildfire.
Credit: USDA

A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) aerial photography survey of 38,000 wildfire-burned acres in Idaho provided what is believed to be the first evidence that the invasive leafy spurge weed is displacing seedlings of native mountain big sagebrush.

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Terry Booth, a rangeland specialist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Rangeland Resources Research Unit in Cheyenne, Wyo., designed the survey using a technique he developed called Very Large Scale Aerial (VLSA) imagery. The survey of Idaho's "Deep Fire Burn" was done with two cameras at different resolutions aboard a Moyes-Bailey Dragonfly two-seat, light-sport airplane flying just over 300 feet over the area.

Booth found the high-resolution aerial photography technique, usually using three cameras, a good way to sample large areas of the western United States. When supplemented by ground-based methods, it can be used for early detection of invasive species that might threaten native plant populations.

Pesticides and biological-control insects were used to control leafy spurge before and after the wildfire. But the survey, done three years after the fire, showed that leafy spurge still managed to expand in drainage areas and up canyon slopes.

One advantage of this type of aerial survey is that it can be routinely repeated, to keep checking on whether the pesticides or insects are working.

Booth received funding and technical assistance from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The survey technique was made possible by advances in digital cameras, image sensors, storage media, and image processing.

Besides Idaho, Booth has also done aerial surveys in Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, looking at a variety of vegetation, including invasive and native trees, Juniper woodlands, grasslands, and shrublands -- on sites as diverse as gas pipeline rights-of-way and riverbanks.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA/Agricultural Research Service. The original article was written by Don Comis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D Terrance Booth, Samuel E Cox and Deena Teel. Aerial assessment of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.) on Idaho’s Deep Fire Burn. Native Plants, 2011 [link]

Cite This Page:

USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Invasive leafy spurge weed: Digital cameras open new view of America's West." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110906134009.htm>.
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. (2011, September 6). Invasive leafy spurge weed: Digital cameras open new view of America's West. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110906134009.htm
USDA/Agricultural Research Service. "Invasive leafy spurge weed: Digital cameras open new view of America's West." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110906134009.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

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