The Dune Sagebrush Lizard Habitat Map

In order to aid in the protection of the dune sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) habitat, Natural Heritage New Mexico (NHNM) is collaborating with EDAC to map its range in detail. The lizard is found only on the shinoak (Quercus havardii) dunelands of southeastern New Mexico, comprising some 1,415,000 acres. As this habitat is a checkerboard of control of federal, state and private land managers and facing an increasing number of threats from competing land uses, the need to know where important and viable habitat still exists is critical. So beginning in 2011, field crews from NHNM have gone out to the shinoak dunelands and collected and described land cover for a number of ground control plots. These plots have been used by EAC in turn with multi-temporal Landsat imagery from 2011 as well as the NAIP 2011 digital ortho-photography to create a land cover map at a 1-m spatial resolution which is intended to be useful to land managers at a 1:12,000 scale. At present the area is being mapped into 18 different land cover classes, of which the most important is to separate out the healthy shinoak dunelands and dune blowouts, which is critical to the survival of the lizard, from areas of disturbance and degraded habitat. It is expected that this map will be ready sometime in 2014.