Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vegetation and Project Thinking

In my remote sensing class last semester, we did a lot of lessons using imagery from satellites to look at vegetation. A few of the corrections we focused on had to do with vegetation health. This reminds me of the MODIS images we looked at today in lecture showing the LAI values of different areas in South America. Until today I haven’t really been thinking about what I want to do for my project for this class, but I knew after taking remote sensing, the most interesting parts were always about vegetation.  Vegetation is always such an important topic because the basis of the carbon cycle, our source of oxygen and clean air, and even an indicator of soil, water, and air quality in an area. If there is a change at all in vegetation, it is something worth looking into.
I think it would be interesting to create a model to see how vegetation in a certain area changes over time. Whether vegetation levels decrease or increase is important, but it would also be interesting to see if the composition changes at all. Maybe natural species are slowly moving out while new species are slowly moving in or maybe the composition is staying the same. I’m still unaware of all the things Dinamica can do and all the possibilities the program has, but if there is a way to see how the species composition changes in an area over time, I think that would be an interesting project topic.
Talking about the movement of plant species also makes me wonder what exactly makes a plant an “invasive species”. The definition I know of invasive species is a species that is non-native to the ecosystem under consideration. We’ve heard over and over that ranges of plants and animals are changing with respect to climate change. If a plant that is not currently in Vermont suddenly slips over the border of a neighboring state into Vermont, is it an invasive species? Must it naturally occur in Vermont, or could it just be part of the natural movement patterns of the population? There was a time when no sugar maples or red oaks or any other plant for that matter existed in Vermont, so they all had to come in at some point…but that doesn’t make any of them invasive species?

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