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Satellites track leaf beetle infestation

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Salt Lake City (UPI) Mar 10, 2009
University of Utah scientists say they have successfully used satellite data to monitor saltcedar leaf beetle defoliation along the Colorado River.

The scientists said thousands of the beetles (Diorhabda elongate) were brought to Utah from Kazakhstan and were released during the summers of 2004, 2005 and 2006 to help eradicate a small Eurasian tree named tamarisk or saltcedar. The trees, brought to the United States about 150 years ago, quickly took over river banks in many areas.

The researchers said their new study shows it is feasible to use satellite data to monitor the extent of the beetle's attack on tamarisk, and to determine whether use of the beetles might produce unintended environmental consequences.

"We don't have any idea of the long-term impacts of using the beetles; their release may have unexpected repercussions," said Assistant Professor Philip Dennison, first author of the study.

The study, conducted with Professor Jim Ehleringer, Assistant Professor Kevin Hultine, U.S. Geological Survey scientist Pamela Nagler and Edward Glenn, a University of Arizona environmental scientist, is scheduled for online publication later this month in the journal Remote Sensing of Environment.

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