Ecology

Data Driven Decision-Making

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Science  04 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6179, pp. 11
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6179.11-a
CREDIT: USDA FOREST SERVICE

A combination of remote sensing and ecological modeling can increase the efficacy of the reintroduction of endangered plant species, a study in a Hawaiian dryland habitat shows. Reintroductions and habitat restoration are important components of conservation, but with often-limited resources, it can be important to maximize the chances of success. Questad et al. used LiDAR (airborne light detection and ranging) data to determine the optimum topographic features. LiDAR enables mapping of topography at a scale that is relevant to the establishment of individual plants — in this case the shrub Dodonaea viscosa and its associated native plant species. The topographic mapping was used to model the optimization of water and nutrient availability and hence to determine sites that were most promising for restoration. Experimental plantings showed better establishment and growth in the sites that LiDAR identified as suitable. This suite of techniques indicates promise for restoring vegetation and species of conservation concern in a wider range of degraded and disturbed habitats.

Ecol. Appl. 24, 385 (2014).

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