Marla Collins

Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Geography & Geographic Information Science

First Advisor

Bradley C. Rundquist


Grassland birds are diminishing more steadily and rapidly than other North American birds in general. The nesting success of some grassland bird species depends on the amount of nonproductive vegetation (NPV). To estimate NPV land managers are currently using the Robel pole visual obstruction reading methods. Researchers with the USDA Agricultural Research Service's (ARS) Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in Mandan, ND, recently established statistical relationships between photosynthetic vegetation (PV), NPV and spectral vegetation indices (SVIs) derived from more sensitive and more detailed, but less accessible and more costly hyperspectral aerial imagery. This study is an extension of this previous work using spectral vegetation indices collected using the Landsat TM sensor, including simple ratios SWIR-SR (ρ2215/ρ1650) and SR71 (ρ2215 /ρ485) to estimate the amount of NPV and bare ground cover, respectively.