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Satellite-borne lasers tracking woodland happenings, who knows what else

Darren Murph

It may shock your senses, but this actually isn't the first time we've heard of lasers being used to track birds and their habitats. But this go 'round, an Idaho University team is using a satellite-borne laser in an effort to "predict in which part of a State Forest the birds might be living." In particular, the crew is developing methods that'll help them track the North American pileated woodpecker, namely because these creatures are pegged as being great indicators of overall bird diversity. Currently, the laser is only capable of analyzing vital characteristics of a woodland, but scientists are using this information to take a stab as to where the aforementioned birds would be. Essentially, this laser spotting approach enables gurus to spot highly dense sections of forest -- plots where the pileated woodpecker loves to hang -- from above, dramatically cutting down the hide-and-seek that would previously take place on foot in much larger areas. Now, if only they could get lasers onto the birds, we'd have an all new brand of rave to consider.

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