An analysis illustrating the use of automated change detection for monitoring Lesser Prairie-Chicken habitat change.
One of the biggest challenges to understanding the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the absence of programs to monitor habitat conditions and compliance with ESA permits. Without monitoring, conservationists do not know the total amount of habitat loss a species has experienced, whether mandatory conservation measures are being complied with, or whether those measures are effective.
To help overcome this challenge, we developed a cost-effective technique to automatically detect three forms of habitat disturbance in endangered species habitat: oil and gas well pads, wind turbines, and agricultural conversion. Our technique detects disturbances by applying algorithms we developed to satellite data generated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency, and served by Google. For our pilot project, we applied the algorithms to satellite data of Lesser Prairie-Chicken habitat.