SAVANNA LAB

The whole world is a savanna; forests and grasslands are just special cases.

New Savanna Lab paper using satellite thermal data for vegetation monitoring

March 24 2021

Savanna Lab member Caroline Toth will defend her master’s research this afternoon, March 24 at 3 pm. Caroline is a graduate student in Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) and a Jornada Basin LTER Graduate Research Fellow. Good luck Caroline!

Title: “Weather, soil, and microbial interactions determine seed germination and seedling demographic bottlenecks in Chihuahuan Desert shrubs”

Date and Time: Wednesday March 24 @ 3 pm

Where: https://nmsu.zoom.us/j/97412710100


Savanna Lab makes a 2020 top-10 list in Nature!

December 16 2020

Savanna Lab's Nature News and Views article, Satellites could soon map every tree on Earth, was listed among the “10 remarkable discoveries from 2020” by Nature.


Savanna Lab become GEDI knights!

December 16 2020

Savanna Lab's proposal to work with GEDI data is funded by NASA GEDI program. Our proposal entitled "Patterns and drivers of tree height and biomass in water limited ecosystems" will be funded for 3-years to examine global patterns in tree height and biomass and assess how these patterns are related to climate, phylogeny, soils and disturbance.


SERVIR Special Topic in Frontiers in Environmental Science

December 13 2020

Papers from the Special Research Topic "Use of Earth Observations for Actionable Decision Making in the Developing World" in Frontiers in Environmental Sciences now avaialble online (link). Articles in this Special Topic introduce a range of EO-based approaches for monitoring natural resources, risk, and disaster analysis and prediction in SERVIR regions of Africa, Himalaya-Hindu Kush, and Southeast Asia. You can also read the Editorial Introduction of this Special Topic by Niall Hanan, Ashutosh Limaye, and Daniel Irwin here.


Nature Article: Satellites could soon map every tree on Earth

October 15 2020

Niall Hanan and Julius Anchang published a News and Views article (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02830-3) this week in the journal Nature. The commentary builds on a new paper by Martin Brandt, Compton J Tucker and colleagues (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2824-5) who map ~1.8 billion individual trees in high resolution satellite data for the western Sahel. Our growing ability to map the size and location of individual tree canopies over large areas will be transformative for the terrestrial earth observation community. The News and Views argues that, with more efficient deep learning for canopy classification, we will soon be able to map all trees globally.


Scholarship awarded to Savanna Lab members

August 20 2020

Robert Wojcikiewicz received a one-year AES graduate research award to support his work related to analysis of high resolution landscape imagery. The AES graduate research awards further the mission of ACES and the AES by expanding research that benefits the citizens of New Mexico. Brianna Lind also recieved the Salopek Congratulations Foundation Endowed Scholarship and the Arden & Elsie Baltensperger Scholarship for her graduate study at the Plant and Environmental Sicences Department.

Congratulations to Robert and Brianna!


New Savanna Lab paper using satellite thermal data for vegetation monitoring

June 17 2020

Congratulations to former Savanna Lab member Sanath Sathyachandran for his new paper titled "Remotely sensed thermal decay rate: an index for vegetation monitoring" published in Scientific Reports. In his new paper, Sanath found that the termal decay rate, defined as the variations in the diurnal temperature, is a useful indicator of both vegetation structure and function. Article link: 10.5061/dryad.v5s0j.


Brianna attending AIBS workshop

May 18 2020

Brianna Lind attended the American Institute of Biological Sciences' Enabling Interdisciplinary and Team Science over zoom in late April. Through the workshop, Brianna has increased her awareness of specific attributes of successful teams, including examples of effective leadership styles, ways to develop shared visions, and ways to improve communication and trust among team members. The picture on the left shows a mind-mapping she used to develop realistic expectations around a certain task as a group.


New Savanna Lab paper on cropland mapping in West African Sahel

May 4 2020

Congratulations to Kaboro Samasse for his new paper mapping rainfed and irrigated cropland at 30 meter scale across five West African Sahel countries. His analysis uses training data, the Landsat satellite archive, Google Earth Engine (GEE) and locally-optimized random forest models. The paper titled "A High-Resolution Cropland Map for the West African Sahel Based on High-Density Training Data, Google Earth Engine, and Locally Optimized Machine Learning" is published in Remote Sensing. Article link: 10.3390/rs12091436. A visulaization of the new cropland dataset on GEE.


New NASA-funded proposal for Savanna Lab

April 22 2020

Successful result for Savanna Lab proposal to work with ICESat-2. Our proposal entitled "Improving estimates of vegetation structure and biomass in global savannas and drylands with ICESat-2" will be funded for 3-years to "boldly go where no ICESat studies have gone before".



Graduate students Caroline Toth and Robert Wojcikiewicz receive JRN-LTER graduate fellowships

April 22 2020

Caroline's project entitled "Demographic bottlenecks as drivers of dominant shrub distributions in the Jornada Basin" will support her study of seed and seedling dynamics in some of the dominant shrubs of the Northern Chihuahuan Desert. Robert's project entitled "Remote sensing of biotic and abiotic factors contributing to shrub encroachment in dryland ecosystems" is looking at the dual roles of spatial connectivity and density dependence as feedback mechanisms underlying shrub encroachment.


Graduate student Taylor Hansen received NEON award to attend NEON workshop as part of the ESA Annual Meeting

April 22 2020

Taylor applied for a 2020 NEON-ESA Early Career Scholars Program to learn about NEON data and analysis during this year's ESA Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, UT.


New Savanna Lab paper on mapping woody cover using Google Earth Engine

January 10 2020

Using both optical ( Sentinel-2) and radar backscatter (Sentinel-1) data, Julius Anchang mapped woody canopy cover in West Africa savannas at a very high spatial resolution. The mapping application can also be replicated and rescaled via the Google Earth Engine platform. The paper titled "Towards Operational Mapping of Woody Canopy Cover in Tropical Savannas using Google Earth Engine" is published in Frontiers in Environmental Science. Article link: 10.3389/fenvs.2020.00004.


Featured story: Savanna Lab's Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) research

November 05 2019

Using Unmanned Aerial System (UAS),the Savanna Lab is studying the vegetation population at the Jornada Basin Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site. Read more about the story: NMSU researchers drive agriculture into the future with big data.


Savanna Lab's publication is one of the top downloaded!

September 05 2019

Congratulations to Savanna Lab alumni Njoki Kahiu - her paper Fire in sub-Saharan Africa: The fuel, cure and connectivity hypothesis was in the top 20 most read articles in JGR-Biogeosciences in the Jan 2017 through December 2018 2 year period!