Two rare species, California spotted owls in the Sierra Nevada and the Delmarva fox squirrel in the mid-Atlantic U.S. have something in common. Using NASA technology, scientists have been able to identify habitats to help forest managers monitor and protect these species and other wildlife. The recent research shows that airborne laser scanning with Light Detecting And Ranging (LiDAR) can be especially valuable in ensuring that forests and other lands continue to be diverse, healthy, and productive, while still meeting the needs of society and the environment.
The study is funded by the NASA/University of Maryland Vegetation Canopy LiDAR (VCL) mission and NASA Interdisciplinary Science (IDS) Program grant. Airborne LiDAR and similar techniques are also being used to help monitor and reintroduce other endangered species around the world, like the northern spotted owl that typically resides in old forests in Oregon and California, where trees are more than 100 years old.