Monday, September 9, 2013

Using new methods to control the spread of invasive species

In ecosystems where many species do not thrive, the implementation and control of invasive species to help bolster the ecosystem is a controversial topic.  While these plants often help to regulate and increase the overall health of the ecosystem, over time they can choke out other species due to the fact that they are able to thrive in their new environment.

This is exactly what happened in south Texas in riparian ecosystems with the saltcedar.  Until recently, the data collection methods used to survey and ultimately control the saltcedar population in the Rio Grande basin in Texas were not stopping the spread of the cedars and the destruction of the ecosystem.

Coarse-resolution remote sensing data had been used to determine where exactly the saltcedar was located.  However, this did not allow for differentiation between it and other riparian plants, and in the process of eradicating the cedar many other species were also damaged.  Now, they are using higher resolution remote sensing which allows the surveyors to be much more specific in their identification and eradication.

Thanks to GIS this ecosystem will become healthier, and much more likely to return to its original state because the native plants will be able to thrive.  This is one of the many ways that GIS is able to help ecologists and conservation biologists to do their jobs more effectively.


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  2. GIS is a great example of how technology continues to improve dramatically over short periods of time. The ecosystem is likely to become significantly healthier now that the only plants being eradicated are invasive.

  3. The ability this provides conservation biologists and others working to stop the spread of invasive species in incredible, and it really demonstrates the necessity of utilizing various skill sets to combat and find better solutions to biological problems.

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  5. This is one of the many reasons GIS is so cool! It would be great to use this GIS model for developing countries, to show them the immense effects of invasive species. Another interesting GIS map/project would be a study of all the major invasive species in Texas--I think it could be pretty powerful.