Mapping Changes in Asian Migratory Locust Habitat in Central Asia using Moderate Resolution Landsat Imagery

Jolivet, Matthew T.
Locusts outbreaks can result in massive crop losses and environmental disasters impacting individual farmers to entire countries. Several national and international agencies are tasked with managing locust population through chemical and biological treatments. Updated information on vegetation condition is essential for assessing the risk of locust outbreak. The Amudarya River Delta, located south of the Aral Sea, is one of the major habitats of the Asian Migratory locust (AML). Reeds (Phramites Australis), the major vegetation found in the delta, are the primary food source of AML. The surface area of the Aral Sea has receded since the 1950s due to diversion of water from Amudarya River. This shrinking Aral Sea has increased the area available for reeds to grow. Plant Protection Services personnel need periodic information about reed distribution and growth for planning management activities. Using Landsat images acquired in 1986, 1998 and 2008 this research mapped the expansion of reed beds and quantified the changes. We quantified the spatial extent and magnitude of changes in the delta. Our results will provide valuable insights to Plant Protection Agency personnel about the increasing risks posed by these expanding habitats.
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