05 October 2010

Mary Nichols takes on Buffelgrass

Fine Gigapixel conference committee member Mary Nichols, USDA-ARS Southwest Watershed Research Center, has been using the GigaPan to document Buffelgrass.

Buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) is a non-native grass that threatens the Sonoran Desert ecosystem because it out competes native plants for water and nutrients and it presents a fire hazard in an ecosystem that is not fire adapted. The use of aerially applied herbicide is being tested as a control method is being tested in the Tucson Mountains through a coordinated effort among Federal and Local Agencies, the University of Arizona, and the non-profit Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center.

Buffelgrass is found in steep rocky sites that are difficult to access for both treatment and monitoring to assess the effectiveness of treatments. Sequences of high resolution landscape photos are being taken with the GigaPan system to document the herbicide treatments and research is underway to develop new methods for monitoring treatment effects. Interpretations from the photos will be compared with measurements taken at ground sites. Research is underway by Mary Nichols, Mike Crimmins, and Travis Bean to develop quantitative methods for interrogating GigaPan images.

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