Navigation Links
Bird watchers, space technology come together in Montana State University study
Date:6/24/2008

BOZEMAN, Mont. -- Almost every June for 30 years, Terry McEneaney drove around Yellowstone National Park and listed every bird he heard along three routes.

Park ornithologist at the time, he would drive to a designated spot and identify the birds there. Then he'd drive another half mile, repeat the process and continue until he had stopped 50 times in 24.5 miles for the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Trying to finish before the birds quit singing, he'd ignore the scenery as best he could and try not to let the traffic bother him.

"You have to start very early and have to be done about 9:30. Birds stop singing about 9:30," McEneaney said. "You have to really hustle from point to point."

McEneaney no longer works for the National Park Service. He retired in November. But the information he gathered is part of a new Montana State University study that looks at biodiversity across North America. Thousands of bird watchers and a satellite sensor developed at the University of Montana yielded data for the continental study.

"I had a feeling somebody would use it somehow," McEneaney said.

MSU's results will be described in at least three scientific papers, the first to be published this summer in the journal Remote Sensing of the Environment, said Linda Phillips, lead author and a research scientist at MSU. Co-authors are Andy Hansen, an MSU ecologist; and Curtis Flather with the USDA Forest Service in Fort Collins, Colo.

The paper reports that the UM satellite sensor, a Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, works far better than other types of remote sensing technology for broad-scaled ecological studies, Phillips said. First launched in 1999 on the Terra satellite, MODIS improves on previous technology and provides more comprehensive measures of vegetation.

"In simple terms, MODIS is like an expensive Nikon camera compared to a pocket disposable camera for picture quality," said Steve Running of UM, Regents Professor of Ecology and director of the Numerical Terradynamics Simulation Group.

"It is very difficult to study bird breeding habitat over large area from ground surveys, as birds are so mobile," he added. "MODIS allows a broad regional view of the landscape similar to the view birds have from the air."

Running and a team at UM developed MODIS. The sensor detects information about vegetation across North America and sends it to a clearinghouse in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The bird data for MSU's study came from thousands of bird watchers -- mostly volunteers --who participated in the North American Breeding Bird Survey. The survey is a joint effort of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Canadian Wildlife Service to monitor the status and trends of some 400 bird populations. It began about 40 years ago.

The bird watchers, using the same techniques as McEneaney, covered almost 3,500 routes in the continental United States, Canada and Alaska, Phillips said. MSU obtained their reports from a clearinghouse in Maryland, then analyzed 1,390 of the routes and combined the results with those from MODIS.

"I'm sure the volunteers had no idea we would be using their data in such a sophisticated way," Phillips said.

Hansen said, "It's a really neat example of how volunteer efforts, mixed with NASA satellite program, allow us to learn things we never would have thought possible to examine at a national scale."

MSU's study typifies the kind of research conducted in his Landscape Biodiversity Lab and speaks well of the Montana University System, Hansen said.

"Who would have thought that our local universities were designing satellite sensors, being responsible for putting them in space, generating all this data and now we are using that data across the continent for understanding things like conservation and land use issues?" Hansen commented.

The next two papers from MSU's study will focus on ecological and management findings, the researchers said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Evelyn Boswell
evelynb@montana.edu
406-994-5135
Montana State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Shuttle brings space-grown strep bacteria back for study
2. UCs NIH grant brings technology from outer space to playgrounds
3. Spaceflight shown to alter ability of bacteria to cause disease
4. A new milestone in the GMES Space Component Program successfully achieved
5. Space technology harnessed to search out TB
6. The industrial space age
7. Space technology put into service for global water resources observations
8. Air quality forecasts see future in space
9. Final preparations for first human-rated spacecraft to be lauched from Europes Spaceport
10. Birds, bats and insects hold secrets for aerospace engineers
11. Private Rocketeers reach for space -- science writer in Canada to explain
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/4/2016)... Feb. 4, 2016 The field of ... of the most popular hubs of the biotechnology ... other huge studies of human microbiota, have garnered ... years, the microbiome space has literally exploded in ... This report focuses on biomedical aspects of ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 3, 2016 Vigilant Solutions announces today that ... Missouri solved two recent hit-and-run ... data from Vigilant Solutions. Brian Wenberg ... the victim was walking out of a convenience store and witnessed an elderly ... his vehicle, striking his vehicle and leaving the scene.  ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... YORK , Feb. 2, 2016 ... of the bioinformatic market by reviewing the recent ... enabled tools that drive the field forward. Includes ... to: Identify the challenges and opportunities that ... providers and software solution developers, as well as ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... , ... February 10, 2016 ... ... today announced that it has joined the Human Vaccines Project, a public-private ... diseases and cancer. , The Human Vaccines Project brings together leading ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... 2016  Allergan plc (NYSE: AGN ) a ... Saunders , Allergan,s CEO and President, will be featured ... at the RBC Capital Markets Healthcare Conference on Tuesday, ... New York Palace Hotel in New York, ... and can be accessed on Allergan,s Investor Relations web ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... ... states, announced today the promotion of two long-standing principal investigators (PI) to the ... Medicine, Clinical Research and Development. , Dr. Laurence Chu, a Benchmark Research PI ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... LATHAM, NEW YORK... Marktech Optoelectronics ... Photonics West conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center from February 16-18, 2016, and ... , These latest InGaAs PIN diode standard packages feature a TO-46 metal can ...
Breaking Biology Technology: