Using remote sensing to monitor cattail invasion, Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve, Kansas.
Cattail (Typha sp.) has become invasive since the mid-twentieth century in the central Great Plains region. Our long-term study site is the Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve marsh-pool complex, which is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC). We employed various types of remote sensing and made ground observations, which we have conducted during the growing season every year since 2002. The goal has been to assist TNC management for cattail monitoring and control based on a pictorial and qualitative approach. During the past two decades, TNC was successful on two occasions in slowing or turning back cattail invasion of its marsh-pool complex. Both involved favorable combinations of climatic events and human actions. Surviving cattail is able to revive quickly and expand rapidly by clonal growth during wet periods, although prolonged high water of floods may arrest cattail growth. Under such variable and dynamic conditions, cattail expansion may regain or surpass previous limits in less than a decade. The long sequence of annual and multi-seasonal small-format aerial photography has proven invaluable for planning habitat work at Cheyenne Bottoms Preserve.