Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Assess Vegetative Cover in Sagebrush Steppe Ecosytstems

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The Idaho National Laboratory (INL), in conjunction with the University of Idaho, is evaluating novel approaches for using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as a quicker and safer method for monitoring biotic resources. Evaluating vegetative cover is an important factor in understanding the sustainability of many ecosystems. In assessing vegetative cover, methods that improve accuracy and cost efficiency could revolutionize how biotic resources are monitored on western federal lands. Sagebrush steppe ecosystems provide important habitat for a variety of species, some of which are important indicator species (e.g., sage grouse). Improved methods are needed to support monitoring these habitats because there ... continued below

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Breckenridge, Robert P. September 1, 2005.

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The Idaho National Laboratory (INL), in conjunction with the University of Idaho, is evaluating novel approaches for using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as a quicker and safer method for monitoring biotic resources. Evaluating vegetative cover is an important factor in understanding the sustainability of many ecosystems. In assessing vegetative cover, methods that improve accuracy and cost efficiency could revolutionize how biotic resources are monitored on western federal lands. Sagebrush steppe ecosystems provide important habitat for a variety of species, some of which are important indicator species (e.g., sage grouse). Improved methods are needed to support monitoring these habitats because there are not enough resource specialists or funds available for comprehensive ground evaluation of these ecosystems. In this project, two types of UAV platforms (fixed wing and helicopter) were used to collect still-frame imagery to assess cover in sagebrush steppe ecosystems. This paper discusses the process for collecting and analyzing imagery from the UAVs to (1) estimate total percent cover, (2) estimate percent cover for six different types of vegetation, and (3) locate sage grouse based on representative decoys. The field plots were located on the INL site west of Idaho Falls, Idaho, in areas with varying amounts and types of vegetative cover. A software program called SamplePoint developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) was used to evaluate the imagery for percent cover for the six vegetation types (bare ground, litter, shrubs, dead shrubs, grasses, and forbs). Results were compared against standard field measurements to assess accuracy.

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  • The Wildlife Society 12th Annual Conference,Madison, Wisconsin,09/25/2005,09/29/2005

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  • Report No.: INL/CON-05-00249
  • Grant Number: DE-AC07-05ID14517
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1070135
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc845876

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Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • September 1, 2005

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  • May 19, 2016, 9:45 a.m.

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  • Nov. 7, 2016, 7:51 p.m.

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Breckenridge, Robert P. Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Assess Vegetative Cover in Sagebrush Steppe Ecosytstems, article, September 1, 2005; Idaho Falls, Idaho. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc845876/: accessed November 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.