Regional Ecological Resource Assessment of the Rio Grande Riparian Corridor: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding Anthropogenic Effects on Riparian Communities in Semi-arid Environments

EPA Grant Number: R827677
Title: Regional Ecological Resource Assessment of the Rio Grande Riparian Corridor: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding Anthropogenic Effects on Riparian Communities in Semi-arid Environments
Investigators: Raney, Jay , Crawford, Melba , Gonzales-Ramos, Javier , Judd, Frank , Lonard, Robert , Neuenschwander, Amy , Paull, Gene , Rieken, Eric , Sullivan, Jeri , Tremblay, Thomas
Current Investigators: Raney, Jay , Crawford, Melba , Encheva, Tatiana , Judd, Frank , Lonard, Robert , Neuenschwander, Amy , Paull, Gene , Tremblay, Thomas , White, William
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin , The University of Texas - Pan American , The University of Texas at Brownsville
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: September 1, 1999 through August 31, 2002 (Extended to December 31, 2003)
Project Amount: $642,496
RFA: Regional Scale Analysis and Assessment (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecosystems , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration

Description:

The objectives of this study are to: 1) acquire and analyze high-resolution remotely sensed data from multiple sensors; 2) integrate existing and new field data and remotely sensed data into a Geographic Information System (GIS) to map the riparian vegetation of the lower reach of the Rio Grande; 3) ascertain whether the native communities are maintaining themselves and identify the topographic, edaphic, and other ecological factors that perpetuate these communities; 4) interpret spatial variations in riparian habitats, including comparisons of the northern and southern banks of the Rio Grande; 5) analyze temporal changes at specific locations; 6) develop a foundation for future analysis of riparian floodplain communities by linking local and remotely sensed regional data using a GIS.

Approach:

The study area includes the lower reach of the Rio Grande from Falcon Dam to the mouth of the river in Cameron County. First, existing, detailed local- scale (0.5-1 m) ecological data in the form of transect statistics for dominant riparian vegetation will be, correlated with existing high-resolution videography and CASI multispectral data (0.5-4 m scale) to delineate the spatial extent of the riparian community. This will provide ground truth for the classification of high-resolution (4-7 m) hyperspectral and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data. Classification output from high-resolution imagery will in turn provide the class mixtures for medium-resolution (20-30 m) Landsat TM and SPOT multispectral data that cover the entire study area, on both sides of the Rio Grande. Existing data on geology, soils, water quality, and hydrology, and topographic information from TOPSAR, as well as laser altimetry data acquired for the study, will be investigated as additional inputs to the classification process and used to help explain temporal and spatial changes in ecological resources indicated in the remotely sensed data. Methodologically, we will evaluate the potential benefits of multiple classification approaches, including multi-resolution neural networks, fuzzy Bayesian classifiers, and contextual classification algorithms. We will use GIS-based spatial models and statistical modeling techniques to assess how information gathered at fine scales in intensive, local studies can be extrapolated to broad scales for ecological monitoring and landscape change analysis.

Expected Results:

Model results will be used to predict the expected future effects of landscape change on plant distributions and community biodiversity and functional organization at multiple scales of resolution. Methodologies will be developed to guide future assessments of riparian regions. This project will help link local, riparian data with regional remote sensing data in a unique location that is undergoing extensive environmental change, while providing the opportunity to evaluate the potential for multiresolution analysis of an extensive multisensor, remotely sensed data set.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 20 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 2 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

EMAP, land management, irrigation, Lower Rio Grande Valley, agriculture, resource management, salinity, biome, videography, spectral imagery., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Geographic Area, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Southwest, Ecology, Hydrology, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Environmental Chemistry, State, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Regional/Scaling, Ecological Risk Assessment, ecological exposure, EMAP, semi-arid environments, Texas, Riparian ecosystem, floodplain communities, ecological assessment, environmental data, anthropogenic, regional scale impacts, Rio Grande Riparian Corridor, agriculture, GIS, landscape patterns, remotely sensed data, land use, scaling methods

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000 Progress Report
  • 2001 Progress Report
  • 2002 Progress Report
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • Final Report