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Detecting Landscape Changes on an Altitudinal Gradient in the Mediterranean: The Case of Mersin, Turkey

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Unprecedented human interventions into ecosystems have resulted in changes in the composition and distribution patterns of landscape types. This trend is responsible for ever increasing demand on the use of land and water resources and for the consequent negative impacts on the environment (Mücher et al. 2000). These landscape changes generally emerge as a result of alterations in management practices due to social, political and/or economic reasons (Roy and Tomar 2001). In this sense, detailed spatial analysis of these environmental changes has to be considered as a fundamental yardstick in order to fill the gap between problem detection and action.

In the context of sustainability, “efficient monitoring” stands for a continuum that provides spatially and categorically reliable change information on a synoptic basis (Alphan and Yilmaz 2005). Remote sensing technologies provide important means to extract this change information from satellite images with the aid of collateral information.

In pursuit of a better understanding of landscape changes, satellite change detection has evolved from visual interpretation of Landsat MSS images (e.g. Aldrich 1975) to complex change detection models and algorithms (e.g. Lee et al. 2008). This process continues to provide better thematic and geographic precision in estimating landscape dynamics, using a rich variety of data and processing methods.

This study assessed relative efficiencies of reflective image datasets including visible, near- and mid-infrared bands from Landsat TM for representing landscape changes in the Mediterranean region of Turkey. This region supports various ecosystem types on an altitudinal gradient from coastline to high mountainous areas. Digital change detection methods, including pre-classification change analysis, such as spectral band algebra and image thresholding were used for change detection analyses.

The study area includes the provincial capital of Mersin province, formerly known as Icel, located on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The area is part of Cukurova, a geographical, economic, and cultural region that covers the provinces of Mersin, Adana, Osmaniye and Hatay. The location of the study area is given in Fig. 13-1.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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