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Very Large Scale Aerial (VLSA) imagery for assessing postfire bitterbrush recovery

Author(s): Corey A. Moffet, J. Bret Taylor, D. Terrance Booth
Year Published: 2008

Very large scale aerial (VLSA) imagery is an efficient tool for monitoring bare ground and cover on extensive rangelands. This study was conducted to determine whether VLSA images could be used to detect differences in antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata Pursh DC) cover and density among similar ecological sites with varying postfire recovery periods. In 2005, VLSA images were acquired at 253 points from high bitterbrush potential ecological sites at the USDA-ARS, U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, Dubois, Idaho. For each image, fire history was classified and bitterbrush density and cover were measured. Bitterbrush cover in images with no recorded history of fire during the previous 68 yr (22 percent of all images) was 1.71 percent and density was 875 plants per ha. Areas with postfire recovery interval between 10 and 68 yr (60 percentage of all images) had bitterbrush density (587 plants per ha) and cover (1.23 percent) that were not different (α = 0.05) from areas with no fire history. Images with postfire recovery interval less than 7 yr (18 percent of all images) exhibited less bitterbrush cover (0.49 percent) and density (263 plants per ha). These results are consistent with other studies of postfire bitterbrush recovery in eastern Idaho and indicate that analysis of VLSA imagery is an effective method for evaluating the impact of fire history on bitterbrush recovery.

Citation: Moffet, Corey A.; Taylor, J. Bret; Booth, D. Terrance. 2008. Very Large Scale Aerial (VLSA) imagery for assessing postfire bitterbrush recovery. In: Kitchen, Stanley G.; Pendleton, Rosemary L.; Monaco, Thomas A.; Vernon, Jason, comps. Proceedings - shrublands under fire: disturbance and recovery in a changing world; 2006 June 6-8; Cedar City, UT. Proceedings RMRS-P-52. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 161-168.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation
Ecosystem(s): Sagebrush steppe
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
NRFSN number: 11024
FRAMES RCS number: 12538
Record updated: Apr 19, 2017