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Near-real-time Estimates of Herbaceous Annual Cover in the Sagebrush Ecosystem (June 19, 2017)

August 18, 2017

This dataset provides a near-real-time estimate of 2017 herbaceous annual cover with an emphasis on annual grass (Boyte and Wylie. 2016. Near-real-time cheatrass percent cover in the Northern Great Basin, USA, 2015. Rangelands 38:278-284.) This estimate was based on remotely sensed enhanced Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (eMODIS) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data gathered through June 19, 2017. This is the second iteration of an early estimate of herbaceous annual cover for 2017 over the same geographic area. The previous dataset used eMODIS NDVI data gathered through May 1 ( The pixel values for this most recent estimate ranged from 0 to100% with an overall mean value of 7.02% and a standard deviation of +/-9.08. The model's test mean error rate (n = 1664), based on nine different randomizations, equaled 5.2% with a standard deviation of +/- 0.09. Overall statistics between the May and June datasets were similar. However, some individual pixel differences can be considerable and are attributed to changing conditions on the ground that are reflected in the satellite data. These changes can influence how the models relate the dependent variable to the independent variables. Both datasets were generated by integrating ground-truth measurements of annual herbaceous percent cover with 250-m spatial resolution eMODIS NDVI satellite derived data and geophysical variables into regression-tree software. The geographic coverage includes the Great Basin, the Snake River Plain, the state of Wyoming, and contiguous areas. We applied a mask to areas above 2250-m elevation because annual grasses are unlikely to exist at substantial cover above this threshold. To target likely sagebrush ecosystems, the mask also covered pixels classified as something other than shrub or grassland/herbaceous by the 2011 National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD). The model was not trained on any masked pixels. Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) is the most common annual grass in the study area. It grows from seed, usually in spring, matures quickly, produces seed, and dies. After dying, cheatgrass contributes fine fuels that facilitate fire ignition and spread throughout sagebrush ecosystems. These fires remove sagebrush stands. Increasing fire frequencies, land management practices, and development have all contributed to the fragmentation of the once expansive sagebrush ecosystems. These ecosystems are critical for water quality, reduced fire threats, and the survival of sagebrush-dependent wildlife.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Near-real-time Estimates of Herbaceous Annual Cover in the Sagebrush Ecosystem (June 19, 2017)
DOI 10.5066/F7M32TNF
Authors Stephen P Boyte, Bruce K. Wylie
Product Type Data Release
Record Source USGS Digital Object Identifier Catalog
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center