Unbeknownst to the everyday American, saltcedar, a non-native species of tree, has been threatening the environment of the United States since the 1830s (Frasier, Silván-Cardenas, Wang, & Yang, 2012). This invasive saltcedar is predominately found in the southwestern areas of the United States, where it was brought into the country to serve as “ornamentals, windbreaks, and erosion control on stream banks” (Frasier, et al., 2012). Due to saltcedar’s incredible ability to survive through droughts, it has prospered in the dry, hot southwest, especially along the Rio Grande basin. But just what is the main issue caused by this tree?
Figure 1 Geographic location of study area where invasive saltcedar is found
Simply put, it steals all the water from the native plants (Frasier, et al., 2012). The location and spread of saltcedar needs to monitored in order to control it and hopefully one day remove it. This is why GIS is used. GIS stands for Geographic Information System. It lets us study and question map data in order to understand patterns and relationships. GIS allows scientists to know where saltcedar is and where it will spread unless kept in check.
Frasier, Amy E., Silván-Cárdenas, José, Wang, Le, & Yang, Jun. 21 May 2012. Invasive
Saltcedar (Tamarisk spp.) Distribution Mapping Using Multiresolution Remote Sensing Imagery.