Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (QNWR) includes 22,135 acres of diverse sand prairie grassland, wetland, and woody vegetation communities at various stages of succession. The topology is flat with raised sandhills and natural and man-made depressions. Alterations to the landscape and natural resources at multiple spatial and temporal scales contribute to current vegetation conditions. While the refuge was established in 1955, a detailed vegetation map was not available for management purposes. With the present development of a biological program and Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP), a baseline vegetation map of the refuge was identified as a necessity. Development of the vegetation map and associated report was a multi-step process. Aerial photography (NAIP, 2008) was used with eCognition to create polygons of different plant communities based on the likeness of surrounding pixels in the area. Prior to ground-truthing, the following activities were accomplished: training on vegetation mapping using GIS (previous experience and National Conservation Training Center course), creation of an vegetation association and alliance dichotomous key, development of a refuge plant key and identification skills, and preparation of maps for ground truthing. Once out in the field dominant plants were identified for appropriate vegetation alliance and association classification, plant specimens were collected for the refuge herbarium as necessary and additional observations and photos were gathered for the report. Over the course of the project, classification data was entered into a GIS and polygons were appropriately modified to create the final map. At Quivira, results found a total of 42 alliances and 43 associations. Of those, 23 Alliances and 24 associations were refuge specific (not included in NVCS lists). The most dominant plants throughout the refuge in 2008 based on canopy cover were saltgrass, plum, little bluestem and cottonwood. The number of alliances and associations found on the refuge show high species diversity.
Below is a condensed version of the completed map. It is a good demonstration of the diversity and complexity of Quivira's vegetation communities, as well as the large amount of work that resulted in the map.
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The tallest North American bird, and one of the rarest: now numbering about 600 in the world, there were once as few as 16.