Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Monitoring restoration impacts to endemic plant communities in soil inclusions of arid environments

June 28, 2013

Soil inclusions are small patches of soil with different properties than the surrounding, dominant soil. In arid areas of western North America, soil inclusions called slickspot soils are saltier than adjacent soil and support different types of native vegetation. Traditional sagebrush restoration efforts, such as using drills to plant seeds or herbicides to control invasive vegetation, may damage sensitive slickspot soil and supporting vegetation. USGS scientists David Pyke and Scott Shaff and collaborators monitored slickspot size and cover of endangered slickspot peppergrass for two years to see if they were affected by the application of the herbicide glyphosate or by a minimum-till drill in the Snake River Plain, ID. The researchers examined the use of aerial photographs versus on-the-ground measurements and concluded that slickspot sizes were not affected by these treatments. Remote sensing using aerial photographs proved a useful method for mapping slickspot soils.