Project Team: Ethiopia Ecological Forecasting Team
Team Location: United States Geological Survey (USGS) at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
Matt Luizza (Colorado State University)
Tewodros Wakie (Colorado State University)
Amanda West (Colorado State University)
Dr. Paul Evangelista (Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University)
Dr. Melinda Laituri (Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Colorado State University)
Catherine Jarnevich (U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center)
Invasion of non-native species is among the most critical threats to natural ecosystems and economies. Mesquite(which includes some 45 species) is ranked as one of the most globally invasive plants, dominating millions of hectares of arid and semi-arid lands in Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas. In Ethiopia, Prosopis juliflora (the only reported mesquite) is viewed as the most problematic plant invader to the country, having an array of negative impacts on ecosystems and rural livelihoods. Due to its rapid spread and persistence, it has been ranked as one of the leading threats to traditional land use, exceeded only by drought and conflict. For this project, the NASA DEVELOP Ethiopia Ecological Forecasting team used moderate resolution (30 meter) Landsat 8 data to assist in mapping current infestations of P. juliflora in the Afar region of northeastern Ethiopia, and further assessed the suitable habitat for invasion of the species across all of Ethiopia. Neither the current nor the potential habitats of invasive P. juliflora trees has been quantified in Ethiopia. Integrating the aforementioned NASA Earth observations with field-assessment data and ancillary geospatial datasets has produced a time- and cost-effective strategy for conducting risk assessments of invasive mesquite and subsequent monitoring and mitigation efforts.
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