Date of Award:

12-2017

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Advisor/Chair:

Juan Villalba

Abstract

Medusahead is a harmful weed that is invading public lands in the West. The invasion is a serious concern to the public because it can reduce forage for livestock and wildlife, increase fire frequency, alter important ecosystem cycles (like water), reduce recreational activities, and produce landscapes that are aesthetically unpleasing. Invasions can drive up costs that generally require taxpayer’s dollars. Medusahead seedlings typically spread to new areas by attaching itself to passing objects (e.g. vehicles, animals, clothing) where it can quickly begin to affect plants communities. To be effective, management plans need to be sustainable, informed, and considerate to invasion levels across large landscapes. Ecological remote sensing analysis is a method that uses airborne imagery, taken from drones, aircrafts, or satellites, to gather information about ecological systems. This Thesis strived to use remote sensing techniques to identify medusahead in the landscape and its changes through time. This was done for an extensive area of rangelands in the Channel Scabland region of eastern ashington. This Thesis provided results that would benefit land managers that include: 1) a dispersal map of medusahead, 2) a time line of medusahead cover through time, 3) “high risk’ dispersal areas, 4) climatic factors showing an influence on the time line of medusahead, 5) a strategy map that can be utilized by land managers to direct management needs. This Thesis shows how remote sensing applications can be used to detect medusahead in the landscape and understand its invasiveness through time. This information can help create sustainable and effective management plans so land managers can continue to protect and improve western public lands threatened by the invasion of medusahead.

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