Rapid dispersal of saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) biocontrol beetles (Diorhabda carinulata) on a desert river detected by phenocams, MODIS imagery and ground observations

Pamela L. Nagler, Susanna Pearlstein, Edward P. Glenn, Tim B. Brown, Heather L. Bateman, Dan W. Bean, Kevin R. Hultine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

We measured the rate of dispersal of saltcedar leaf beetles (Diorhabda carinulata), a defoliating insect released on western rivers to control saltcedar shrubs (Tamarix spp.), on a 63km reach of the Virgin River, U.S. Dispersal was measured by satellite imagery, ground surveys and phenocams. Pixels from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) sensors on the Terra satellite showed a sharp drop in NDVI in midsummer followed by recovery, correlated with defoliation events as revealed in networked digital camera images and ground surveys. Ground surveys and MODIS imagery showed that beetle damage progressed downstream at a rate of about 25kmyr-1 in 2010 and 2011, producing a 50% reduction in saltcedar leaf area index and evapotranspiration by 2012, as estimated by algorithms based on MODIS Enhanced Vegetation Index values and local meteorological data for Mesquite, Nevada. This reduction is the equivalent of 10.4% of mean annual river flows on this river reach. Our results confirm other observations that saltcedar beetles are dispersing much faster than originally predicted in pre-release biological assessments, presenting new challenges and opportunities for land, water and wildlife managers on western rivers. Despite relatively coarse resolution (250m) and gridding artifacts, single MODIS pixels can be useful in tracking the effects of defoliating insects in riparian corridors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-219
Number of pages14
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Volume140
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • Beetle infestation
  • EVI
  • NDVI
  • Remote monitoring
  • Scaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Geology
  • Computers in Earth Sciences

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