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’Big data’ enables first census of desert shrub

ScienceDaily (December 7, 2020 )

Titre : ’Big data’ enables first census of desert shrub

ScienceDaily (December 7, 2020 )

Résumé
Researchers leveraged computer algorithms and high-resolution survey data to conduct the first-ever creosote census - counting every creosote in a 135-square-mile conservation site in Nevada’s Mojave Desert. The researchers discovered important new information about the plant species, but they also demonstrate how data techniques can improve on conventional methods for studying plant communities.

Descriptif
The data were originally collected to find burrows belonging to the threatened desert tortoise. But the high-resolution photos (one pixel is equivalent to six inches) combined with the elevation data that measured variations in each square meter of the easement, created a rich resource for new research.

Counting the creosotes involved applying computer algorithms that could distinguish the bushes from the surrounding landscape and other plants. In addition to carrying out the census, the algorithms also extracted information on each creosote’s location, height, and canopy area, from which canopy volume was calculated.They also extracted information on the surrounding landscape, such as relative soil age, and slope angle and direction.

When the landscape and creosote information were analyzed together, the researchers discovered some notable trends about how the landscape influenced plant growth.

They found that direction of the slope, or aspect, was the main control on creosote volume — with the plants growing on east-facing slopes being about five times bushier than plants on west-facing slopes.

Story Source  : University of Texas at Austin

Annonce (ScienceDaily)

Page publiée le 23 juin 2021