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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

 VLSA Monitoring on NMSU Corona Ranch

A Pinyon-Juniper System

 

 Andres F. Cibils  D. Terrance Booth
 Assistant Professor of Range Science  Rangeland Scientist
 Dept. of Animal and Range Sciences  USDA Agricultural Research Service
 New Mexico State University  Rangeland Resources Research Unit
 P.O. Box 30003  8408 Hildreth Rd
 Las Cruces, NM 88003-8003  Cheyenne, WY 82009
 Phone: (505) 646-4342  Phone: (307) 772-2433
 Fax: (505) 646-5441  Fax: (307) 637-612

Project Introduction

Pinyon-juniper woodlands in New Mexico and in other areas of the West are invading grasslands and reducing livestock forage. The investigation of this and other landscape-scale processes, and related management effects have been hindered by lack of effective methods for making fine-scale measurement across extensive areas in a cost-effective and timely manner. Historic efforts to use high-resolution aerial photography for rangeland monitoring have been limited by low image quality from motion blur. Recent advances limiting motion blur make systematic aerial sampling a practical means for acquiring hundreds to thousands of geo-coded aerial samples (images) uniformly-spaced across areas of interest. Geo-coding allows each sample to be described by aspect, elevation, soils, vegetation, and other characteristics using Geographic Information System data bases that are commonly available. In this project we will use high-resolution aerial imagery to characterize juniper woodland structure and its understory, assess interspace ground cover, the relationship of trees and herbaceous vegetation, and the response of these woodland areas to management practices at the New Mexico State University, Corona Range and Livestock Research Center (CRLRC).

Objectives:
  1. Acquire a baseline aerial vegetation survey for the CRLRC (1-mm GSD) and measure ground cover by lifeform and bare ground, litter, rock.
  2. Characterize juniper  woodland structure, understory, and interspaces:
  • Juniper canopy diameter and tree height (10 to 20 mm GSD).
  • Density in woodland dominated pastures on the ranch (10 to 20 mm GSD).
            Nearest neighbor distances.
  • Measure bare ground in Juniper interspaces (1-mm GSD) where shadowing does not affect the view.
           Test correlation of bare ground to nearest neighbor distances
           Test correlation of bare ground to canopy diameter.
           Measure the rate of canopy closure, the dynamics of associated herbaceous          species, and related changes to ground cover.
  •  Characterize herbaceous vegetation growing in the proximity of treated     (tebuthiron) and untreated Junpier saplings.
Study Area:

The study area is the New Mexico State University, CRLRC is located about 8 miles northeast of Corona, New Mexico in Torrance and Lincoln Counties at latitude: 34° 17' 0" N, longitude: 105° 24' 0.00" W and covers 11,262 ha. Elevations on the ranch range from 2,042 meters on the top of the mesa in the extreme southwestern corner of the Mesa Pasture to1,743 meters in the extreme southeastern corner. The CRLRC occupies a short grass prairie / pinyon-juniper ecotone. The predominate vegetation as described by Hart et al. (1990) is blue and black grama, creeping muhly, and buffalograss in grasslands with and one-seeded juniper in the woodlands.

       

Proceedings, Corona Range and Livestock Research Center – Field Day

Corona Range Poster

   
 Aerial veiw of PJ woodland density.  Young cows enjoying spring green up.
 plane  dargonfly
 Equipment platform with digital cameras, navigation system, laser altimeter and light meter mounted on the Moyes-Bailey Dragonfly.  The Moyes-Bailey Dragonfly, a Federal Aviation Administration-designated Light Sport Aircraft, was used for the aerial survey of the Corona Ranch in October 2007
   
 VLSA image acquired over the Corona Ranch from 100m above ground using a Canon 1Ds Mark II digital SLR camera and 100mm lens.  VLSA image acquired over the Corona Ranch from 100m above ground using a Canon 1Ds Mark II digital SLR camera and 100mm lens.
   
 VLSA image panels at different zoom levels acquired over the Corona Ranch from 100m above ground using a Canon 1Ds Mark II digital SLR camera and 100mm lens.  VLSA image acquired over the Corona Ranch from 100m above ground using a Canon 1Ds Mark II digital SLR camera and 840mm lens.

 


Last Modified: 4/1/2009