Conservation evaluation of large areas ( > 10 000 km2) in Australia requires detailed mapping of vegetation types. Predicting the original vegetation cover of extensive cleared areas in an explicit, consistent and repeatable manner necessitates the use of statistical modelling. This paper describes an integrated approach to vegetation mapping in a region of New South Wales, Australia. The approach uses separate statistical models for each tree and shrub species to predict the vegetation composition in each grid cell in a geographic information system (GIS). Allocation of these grid cells to communities allows communities that no longer exist in the remaining remnants of woodland to be defined. Examples of use of this information for management are presented. This paper addresses the practical considerations which constrain the way statistical modelling can be used for vegetation mapping in an applied project. Constraints include: (1) data availability (use of sampling to fill gaps in existing data), (2) the effects of cover abundance values, (3) availability of GIS predictors, (4) data management, (5) current generalised additive model methods and (6) prediction methods. Careful attention to the practicality of all components of a vegetation mapping study is essential if modern methods are to be applied in regional studies which must provide functional products for land managers with limited resources, skills and finances at their disposal.
Biodiversity and Conservation – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 11, 2004
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