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Rapid Evaluation of Arid Lands (REAL): A Methodology

Rapid Evaluation of Arid Lands (REAL): A Methodology
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Author(s): Daniel P. Dugas (New Mexico State University, USA), Michael N. DeMers (New Mexico State University, USA), Janet C. Greenlee (New Mexico State University, USA), Walter G. Whitford (New Mexico State University, USA) and Anna Klimaszewski-Patterson (New Mexico State University, USA)
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 19
Source title: Emerging Methods and Multidisciplinary Applications in Geospatial Research
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Donald P. Albert (Sam Houston State University, USA) and G. Rebecca Dobbs (University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1951-7.ch009


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Management of desert grasslands requires rapid, low technology, coarse assessment methods that provide a triage-like prioritization for the manager. Such approaches necessitate the ability to quickly and effectively identify coarse-scale plant communities that provide guidance for this prioritization. Complex, computer intensive digital image classification of Landsat TM data, while marginally successful, requires time, equipment, and expertise not always available in such environments. This study identifies landform boundaries in the Armendaris Ranch, New Mexico by visual inspection of Landsat-7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper imagery and topographic maps using traditional photoreconnaissance techniques. Employing predetermined hierarchical landform classifications, it was possible to map plant communities using ecological relationships that exist between the general physiographic and vegetation settings in the area and representative geomorphic landform-mapping units. The authors’ field work verified the plant community map using a random walk approach and visual inspection. This synthetic expert opinion-based approach proved successful and is repeatable in other arid rangeland settings.

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