Mapping forest functional type in a forest-shrubland ecotone using SPOT imagery and predictive habitat distribution modelling

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Author(s):
Timothy J. Assal
Patrick J. Anderson
Jason Sibold
Publication Date: 2015
Tags: Remote Sensing Letters

The availability of land cover data at local scales is an important component in forest management and monitoring efforts. Regional land cover data seldom provide detailed information needed to support local management needs. Here we present a transferable framework to model forest cover by major plant functional type using aerial photos, multi-date Système Pour l’Observation de la Terre (SPOT) imagery, and topographic variables. We developed probability of occurrence models for deciduous broad-leaved forest and needle-leaved evergreen forest using logistic regression in the southern portion of the Wyoming Basin Ecoregion. The model outputs were combined into a synthesis map depicting deciduous and coniferous forest cover type. We evaluated the models and synthesis map using a field-validated, independent data source. Results showed strong relationships between forest cover and model variables, and the synthesis map was accurate with an overall correct classification rate of 0.87 and Cohen’s kappa value of 0.81. The results suggest our method adequately captures the functional type, size, and distribution pattern of forest cover in a spatially heterogeneous landscape.

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