Numeric classification as an aid to spectral mapping of vegetation communities
- Cite this article as:
- Lewis, M.M. Plant Ecology (1998) 136: 133. doi:10.1023/A:1009746100894
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This study demonstrates a vegetation mapping methodology that relates the reflectance information contained in multispectral imagery to traditionally accepted ecological classifications. Key elements of the approach used are (a) the use of cover rather than density or presence/absence to quantify the vegetation, (b) the inclusion of physical components as well as vegetation cover to describe and classify field sites, (c) development of an objective land cover classification from this quantitative data, (d) use of the field sample sites as training areas for the spectral classification, and (e) the use of a discriminant function to effectively tie the two classifications together. Land cover over 39000 ha of Australian chenopod shrubland was classified into nine groups using agglomerative hierarchical clustering, a discriminant function developed to relate cover and spectral classes, and the vegetation mapped using a maximum likelihood classification of multi-date Landsat TM imagery. The accuracy of the mapping was assessed with an independent set of field samples and by comparison with a map of land systems previously interpreted from aerial photography. Overall agreement between the digital classification and the land system map was good. The units that have been mapped are those derived from numeric vegetation classification, demonstrating that accepted ecological methods and sound image analysis can be successfully combined.