TitleFeature extraction techniques for measuring piñon and juniper tree cover and density, and comparison with field-based management surveys.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsMadsen, MD, Zvirzdin, DL, Davis, BD, Petersen, SL, Roundy, BA
JournalEnviron Manage
Date Published2011 May
KeywordsConservation of Natural Resources, Data Collection, Juniperus, Pinus

Western North America is experiencing a dramatic expansion of piñon (Pinus spp.) and juniper (Juniperus spp.) (P-J) trees into shrub-steppe communities. Feature extracted data acquired from remotely sensed imagery can help managers rapidly and accurately assess this land cover change in order to manage rangeland ecosystems at a landscape-scale. The objectives of this study were to: (1) develop an effective and efficient method for accurately quantifying P-J tree canopy cover and density directly from high resolution photographs and (2) compare feature-extracted data to typical in-situ datasets used by land managers. Tree cover was extracted from aerial-photography using Feature Analyst®. Tree density was calculated as the sum of the total number of individual polygons (trees) within the tree cover output file after isolation using a negative buffer post-processing technique. Feature-extracted data were compared to ground reference measurements from Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources Range Trend Project (DWR-RTP). We found that the proposed feature-extraction techniques used for measuring cover and density were highly correlated to ground reference and DWR-RTP datasets. Feature-extracted measurements of cover generally showed a near 1:1 relationship to these data, while tree density was underestimated; however, after calibration for juvenile trees, a near 1:1 relationship was realized. Feature-extraction techniques used in this study provide an efficient method for assessing important rangeland indicators, including: density, cover, and extent of P-J tree encroachment. Correlations found between field and feature-extracted data provide evidence to support extrapolation between the two approaches when assessing woodland encroachment.

Alternate JournalEnviron Manage
Full Text
PubMed ID21360170