In mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), reproduction patterns closely follow the cycles of plant growth in their habitat. Research led by David Stoner of Utah State University using NASA satellite data has demonstrated that tracking vegetation from space can help wildlife managers predict when does will give birth to fawns. Researchers claim they can forecast the timing of fawning seasons based on vegetation. With satellite data they track when vegetation greens up and how productive it is compared to drought or wet years.
The tool used by researchers is called the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which is a measure of the "greenness" of the landscape. It measures how plants absorb and reflect light -- the more infrared light is reflected, the healthier the vegetation. So by measuring the greenness of the mule deer habitat, scientists were able to mark the beginning and peak of the plant growing season -- and the fawning season.