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An Early Detection System for Regional Delineation of Advances in Leafy Spurge Infestations in the Upper Midwest, USA

 Karl Brown & Ralph Root

Question 1. What major problem or issue is being resolved and how are you resolving it?

Early detection of leafy spurge (Euphoriba esula L.) infestations is critical for developing strategies for effective control and management of infested areas. This project seeks to employ highly leveraged data sources from related vegetation management and technology research to examine state-of-the art remote sensing capabilities to accomplish the above. A second overall goal of the project is to evelop an expert system, incorporating multiple GIS themes and image classification to identify the most likely areas of leafy spurge spread. Such information would give land managers "pre-emptive" information for control strategies. See the FY-2001 work plan for specific details.

Question 2. How serious is the problem? Why does it matter?

Early detection of leafy spurge infestations enables management and control strategies to be developed that are both timely and cost effective. Infestations that are allowed to persist for 3 to 5 years are much more difficult to eradicate, and native species are much less likely to survive making restoration of original indigenous communities much more difficult and problematic.

Question 3. How does it relate to the National Program(s) and National Program Component(s)?

The TEAM Leafy Spurge project is a part of the USDA/ARS Area-Wide Management Program. It is a component of Crop and Commodity Pest Biology, Control and Quarantine (304). TEAM Leafy Spurge complements efforts to develop new and improved pest control technologies and assess component technologies for integrated pest management (IPM) systems.

Question 4. What was your most significant accomplishment this past year?

Two major accomplishments were made on this project during the present year. The first was collection of high resolution (5m) CASI (Compact Airborne Spectrographic Imager) hyperspectral data over the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and portions of the adjoining USFS National Grasslands. Simultaneous with the aerial data acquisition, ground spectra were collected over a pre-selected calibration site. Availability of this ground calibration data will enable us to finely adjust the airborne imagery for atmospheric differences to arrive at a close approximation of true reflectance.

The second major accomplishment was collection of hundreds of ground spectra using three ASD (Analytical Spectral Devices) portable spectrometers. Spectra were collected of not only the calibration site (Music Company parking lot), but of a wide range of stands of leafy spurge, grasses, sagebrush, rabbitbrush, snowberry, yellow sweetclover, and soil. We are now in the process of developing an IDL program which will compute mean spectra from individual samples, and which also can be used to automate several steps in the calibration procedure.

Question 5. Describe your major accomplishments over the life of the project, including their predicted or actual impact.

Since the project has just started this year, accomplishments to date are the same as #4, above.

Question 6. What do you expect to accomplish year by year, over the next three years?

Next year we are anticipating major data collection activities over the study area. Through other ongoing research projects with NASA, USGS, NPS and USDA-ARS we will be acquiring the following during the summer 2001:

A leafy spurge GPS mapping project is funded by the NPS for summer 2001 to provide ground truth for the classification of the above listed imagery.

Processing these data and incorporating classification results into a predictive expert system will be the primary activity for the remainder of this project. We expect most of that activity to take place in the calendar year 2001, with some additional work completing documentation of results and presentation of further papers in 2002.

Question 7. What science and/or technologies have been transferred and to whom? When is the science and/or technology likely to become available to the end user (industry, farmer, other scientists)? What are the constraints, if known, to the adoption and durability of the technology?

The most significant transfer of technologies this year has been on-site assistance from the USGS Spectroscopy Laboratory on the use of the ASD field spectrometers. The groups benefiting from this technology transfer were the Agricultural Research Service, the National Park Service, and USGS/BRD. Scientists from these organizations can now apply their knowledge of ground spectrometer operation to not only this project but to all other applications requiring collection of ground spectra. These techniques are standard procedures that should be viable for at least the next 3 to 5 years. Since we plan to apply standard calibration techniques to the CASI data, we will be able to make direct comparisions with the calibration procedures internal to the CASI system. Results of this comparison will give us information on which procedure yields the best results, and appropriate recommendations for data analysis procedures will follow.

Question 8. List your most important publications in the popular press (no abstracts) and presentations to non-scientific organizations, and articles written about your work (NOTE: this does not replace your peer-reviewed publications which are listed below).

None to date. We plan to construct a website where we will make our ground spectrometer measurements of several vegetation types available. There is considerable interest in the scientific community on locating sources of vegetation spectra, so this would provide not only publication of data, but would also be a service to the overall scientific community. The project web site would also serve, at least in part, as a technology transfer mechanism through the distribution of these data.

Question 9. Scientific publications

None to date. We have submitted an abstract to ASPRS 2001, April 23-24, 2001, reporting the results of processing the 2000 CASI mission, and have been requested to present a paper at the symposium " Application of Geographical Information Systems and Remote Sensing in Pest Management" to be held at the 221st National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, April 1-5, 2001.

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