top of page

Mapping Canopy Structural Attributes at the Grand River National Grassland, South Dakota


There are over of 0.5 million ha of public lands in North and South Dakota.  These are managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), whose personnel rely heavily on manual measurements of canopy height in autumn to ensure conservation of grassland structure for wildlife and forage for livestock.  However, more comprehensive assessment of vegetation structure could be achieved for mixed-grass prairie by integrating field survey, topographic position (summit, midslope, and toeslope), and spectral reflectance data.  Thus, we examined the variation of mixed-grass prairie structural attributes [photosynthetic vegetation (PV), non-photosynthetic vegetation (NPV), total standing crop (TSC), canopy height or Visual Obstruction Reading (VOR)] and spectral vegetation indices (VIs) with variation in topographic position at the Grand River National Grassland (GRNG), South Dakota.  During the past four years, field campaigns during peak season and post-plant senescence indicate important seasonal and annual variation in grassland structural relationships.  Comprehensive mapping of canopy total standing crop using field and reflectance data is the focus of this report.  

A presentation was given to the USFS regarding this research.  Click on the link below to view this presentation.


Remote Sensing Mapping of Residual Vegetation Presentation

Two journal article on this project have been published in peer-reviewed journals.  

Click below to view these publications

Grasslands Research

bottom of page