, Volume 24, Issue 10, pp 1351-1362
Date: 04 Aug 2009

Determining an appropriate minimum mapping unit in vegetation mapping for ecosystem restoration: a case study from the Everglades, USA

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Abstract

This paper documents the analyses that were conducted with regards to investigating an appropriate Minimum Mapping Unit (MMU) to be used to capture the potential changes in vegetation patterns for a 10,924 square km restoration project being conducted in south Florida, USA. Spatial landscape and class metrics that were shown to change predictably with increasing grain size were adopted from previous studies and applied to a multi-scale analysis. Specifically, this study examines the effects of changing grain size on landscape metrics, utilizing empirical data from a real landscape encompassing 234,913 ha of south Florida’s Everglades. The objective was to identify critical thresholds within landscape metrics, which can be used to provide insight in determining an appropriate MMU for vegetation mapping. Results from this study demonstrate that vegetation heterogeneity will exhibit dissimilar patterns when investigating the loss of information within landscape and class metrics, as grain size is increased. These results also support previous findings that suggest that landscape metric “scalograms” (the response curves of landscape metrics to changing grain size), are more likely to be successful for linking landscape pattern to ecological processes as both pattern and process in ecological systems often operate on multiple scales. This study also incorporates an economic cost for various grain dependant vegetation mapping scales. A final selection of the 50 × 50 m grain size for mapping vegetation was based on this study’s investigation of the “scalograms”, the costs, and a composite best professional judgment of seasoned scientists having extensive experience within these ecosystems.