Inventorying management status and plant species richness in semi-natural grasslands using high spatial resolution imagery

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Abstract

Question Can we reliably estimate grazing intensity, indicators of grazing intensity (i.e. field-layer height and shrub-cover), and vascular plant species richness in semi-natural grasslands from high spatial resolution satellite data? Location The Baltic Island of Oland (Sweden). Methods Fieldwork included the on-site description of grazed and ungrazed areas and shrub-cover within 107 semi-natural grassland sites. Field-layer height and vascular plant species richness (total within-site and mean small-scale species richness) were recorded within the sites. Digital classification of QuickBird data was performed to identify grazed and ungrazed areas and shrub-cover. Vegetation indices were generated to analyze the performance of satellite data for estimating field-layer height, and the spectral heterogeneity was used to characterize the within-site environmental heterogeneity. Results The proportion of digitally classified grazed area explained 45% of the variation in field-layer height and 43% of the variation in shrub-cover. Field-layer height was significantly related to vegetation indices. A linear model with three explanatory variables (spectral richness(red), spectral richness(NIR), and shrub-cover) explained 47% of the variation in total within-site species richness. Conclusions High spatial resolution imagery may assist in the monitoring of the processes that follow the cessation of grazing, on the scale of individual grassland sites. Measures of spectral heterogeneity acquired by high spatial resolution imagery can be used in the assessment of total within-site vascular plant species richness in semi-natural grassland vegetation.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology
  • Physical Geography

Keywords

  • Field-layer height, Grazing, Scrub-encroachment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-233
JournalApplied Vegetation Science
Volume13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes