Mojave Desert Ecological Forecasting

Monitoring Bighorn Sheep Habitat by Assessing Vegetation, Topography, and Soil Moisture

Monitoring Bighorn Sheep Habitat by Assessing Vegetation, Topography, and Soil Moisture

Bighorn sheep are a charismatic desert species that have enormous ecological and cultural significance to the Mojave Desert region in California. After overcoming large population losses in the late 1900s, further habitat degradation and fragmentation has continued to affect the livelihood of remaining bighorn sheep (BHS) herds. Past studies have shown that the habitat selection of remaining BHS metapopulations is extremely selective, requiring very specific forage and topographic conditions. A previous DEVELOP project used remotely sensed precipitation data to characterize vegetation greenness within known BHS habitat and found that additional parameters were needed to more accurately assess and predict herd placement. In partnership with the National Park Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State University, and the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation, the fall 2018 NASA DEVELOP Alaska Ecological Forecasting team utilized data from various NASA Earth observations, including Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP), Terra Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), Terra Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Global Digital Elevation Map (ASTER GDEM), along with National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) aerial imagery to further evaluate spatiotemporal vegetation characteristics in relation to BHS habitat.


Project Video:
Sheepishly Picky
Location
California - JPL
Term
Fall 2018
Partner(s)
National Park Service, Mojave National Preserve
National Park Service, Biological Resources Division, Wildlife Health Branch
California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wildlife Branch, Game Management
Oregon State University, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife
Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation
NASA Earth Observations
Terra, MODIS/ ASTER
SMAP
Team
Brigitte Moneymaker (Project Lead)
Manda Au
Gisela Beltran
Neda Kasraee
Advisor(s)
Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA Langley Research Center)
Dr. Natasha Stavros (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology)
Joseph Spruce (Science Systems & Applications, Inc.)
Project Materials
Poster PDF