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Estimating the Effects of Map Error on Habitat Delineation for the California Spotted Owl in Southern California

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The reliability of habitat maps that have been generated using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and image processing of remotely sensed data can be overestimated. Habitat suitability and spatially explicit population viability models are often based on these products without explicit knowledge of the effects of these mapping errors on model results. While research has considered errors in population modeling assumptions, there is no standardized method for measuring the effects of inaccuracies resulting from errors in landscape classification. Using landscape-scale maps of existing vegetation developed for the USDA Forest Service in southern California from Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite data and GIS modeling, we performed a sensitivity analysis to estimate how mapping errors in vegetation type, forest canopy cover, and tree crown size might affect delineation of suitable habitat for the California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis). The resulting simulated uncertainty maps showed an increase in the estimated area of suitable habitat types. Further analysis measuring the fragmentation of the additional patches showed that they were too small to be useful as habitat areas.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of BiologySan Francisco State University 2: U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceBend, Oregon

Publication date: 2005-10-01

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