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Science Briefing

Counting rats from outer space?

September 20, 2008|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Scientists plan to use satellite photos to count giant kangaroo rats, the first-ever monitoring of an endangered species from outer space.

Biologists will examine the images to find the circular patches of earth denuded by the rats as they gather food around their burrows. From that they plan to get the first accurate population count of the rodents, a bellwether for the health of a parched plains environment.The Nature Conservancy study is focusing on the vast Carrizo Plain in California's Central Valley.

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