Folia Geobotanica

, 44:211 | Cite as

Predictive Mapping of Plant Species and Communities Using GIS and Landsat Data in a Southern Mongolian Mountain Range

  • Henrik von WehrdenEmail author
  • Heike Zimmermann
  • Jan Hanspach
  • Katrin Ronnenberg
  • Karsten Wesche


We assessed presence/absence prediction of plant species and communities in a southern Mongolian mountain range from geospatial data using a randomized sampling approach. One hundred randomized vegetation samples (3 × 3 m) were collected within the 2 × 2 km summit region of the Dund Saykhan range, which forms part of the core zone of the Gobi Gurvan Saykhan National Park in arid southern Mongolia. Using logistic regression, habitat preference models for all abundant species (n = 52) and communities (n = 5) were constructed; predictors were derived from Landsat 5 imagery and a digital elevation model. Nagelkerkes r 2 was used for an initial data mining, and all significant models were validated by splitting the data and using one half for accuracy assessment based on the AUC (Area Under the receiver operating characteristic Curve)-values. Significant models could be built for half of the species. Altitude proved to be the most important predictor followed by variables derived from Landsat data. The clear altitudinal distribution patterns most definitely reflect precipitation; overall biodiversity in this arid environment is widely controlled by moisture availability. The chosen approach may prove valuable for applied studies wherever spatial data on species distributions are required for conservation efforts.


Area under the curve Central Asia Gobi desert Habitat preference Logistic regression model Species distribution Validation 



Akaike information criterion


area under the receiver operating characteristic curve


generalized additive model


geographical information system


global positioning system


normalized difference vegetation index


principal components analysis


shuttle radar topography mission


Tasseled Cap


transformed normalized difference vegetation index


vegetation index (channel 4  −  channel 3)

Plant nomenclature

Grubov (2001), Gubanov (1996) 



Tuvshin’s effort was of great help during the randomized sampling, Tsolmon & Ojuna from the Mongolian State University organized permits. The administration of the Gobi Gurvan Saykhan National Park kindly granted working permits. Determination of difficult taxa would have been impossible without the help of Prof. Sanchir from the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. The base camp of this study was financed by the DFG and the GTZ. Additional financial support was granted by the FWF (project P18624) and the German Academic Exchange Service. We are grateful to Danny McCluskey, Petr Šmilauer and two anonymous reviewers, whose comments greatly improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henrik von Wehrden
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Heike Zimmermann
    • 1
  • Jan Hanspach
    • 3
  • Katrin Ronnenberg
    • 1
  • Karsten Wesche
    • 1
  1. 1.Martin-Luther-University Halle-WittenbergInstitute of Biology/Geobotany and Botanical GardenHalle/SaaleGermany
  2. 2.Research Institute of Wildlife EcologyViennaAustria
  3. 3.UFZHelmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research – UFZHalleGermany

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