Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 211–230

Linking a spatially-explicit model of acacias to GIS and remotely-sensed data

  • Kerstin Wiegand
  • Heike Schmidt
  • Florian Jeltsch
  • David Ward

DOI: 10.1007/BF02803099

Cite this article as:
Wiegand, K., Schmidt, H., Jeltsch, F. et al. Folia Geobot (2000) 35: 211. doi:10.1007/BF02803099


Spatially-explicit and landscape-related simulation models are increasingly used in ecology, but are often criticized because their parameterization has high data requirements. A frequently suggested approach to overcome this difficulty is the linkage of spatially-explicit or landscape-related models with GIS (geographic information system) and remote-sensing technology. GIS can provide data on relevant landscape features, such as topography, and satellite images can be used to identify spatial vegetation distribution. In this paper, we use these techniques for simple, cost-inexpensive (in both time and money) parameterization based on readily-available GIS and remotely-sensed data.

We use a previously developed, spatially-explicit model of the population dynamics of anAcacia species in the Negev desert of Israel (SAM, spatialAcacia model) to investigate if model initialization (measurement of current tree distribution) can be obtained from readily-available satellite images using a radiometric vegetation index (NDVI, normalized difference vegetation index). Furthermore, we investigate the applicability and the advantages of using an explicit consideration of landscape features in the model based on topographic data from a GIS. Using a DEM (digital elevation model), we compare the wadi topography to the current tree distribution observed in the field.

We found that the readily-available GIS and remotely-sensed data are not sufficient to significantly support the parameterization and further development of the model. We conclude that despite the possible benefit of linking spatially-explicit models with other techniques the advantage compared to data sampling in the field is limited by a possible mismatch of scales and the dominant role of stochasticity that may override the relevance of certain spatially-explicit information.


Acacia raddianaLandscape related modelsNDVISimulation modelSpatially-explicitWadi morphology

Copyright information

© Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kerstin Wiegand
    • 1
  • Heike Schmidt
    • 3
  • Florian Jeltsch
    • 1
  • David Ward
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Ecological ModellingUFZ Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-HalleLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Guyot HallPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.The Remote Sensing Laboratory, Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen Gurion University of the NegevSede Boqer CampusIsrael
  4. 4.Plant Ecology and Nature Conservation, Institute for Biochemistry and BiologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  5. 5.Mitrani Department for Desert Ecology and Ramon Science Center, Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen Gurion University of the NegevSede Boqer CampusIsrael
  6. 6.WeimarGermany