Thursday, August 03, 2006

Lasers to create a map of IBWO habitat?

University and NASA researchers recently finished two weeks of flights over the lower Missisippi River.

A team of researchers from the University of Maryland and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center are mapping out areas of habitat suitable for the ivory-billed woodpecker, the largest and most regal member of the woodpecker family, which may still survive some 60 years after it was thought to have gone extinct.

The team just completed two weeks of flights over delta regions of the lower Mississippi River using an aircraft carrying NASA's Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor, which has a unique ability to peer into dense forests to reveal the internal structure of the vegetation, as well as information about the terrain beneath the forest canopy. They are now working to analyze the data taken during the flights and translate it into maps of canopy cover, biomass and other measures of forest structure that will be used to identify areas where ivory-billed woodpeckers are most likely to be found.

What's next, I wonder.

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