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Classification of a complex landscape using Dempster–Shafer theory of evidence

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The landscape of the Highlands of Chiapas, southern Mexico, is covered by a highly complex mosaic of anthropogenic, natural and semi‐natural vegetation. This complexity challenges land cover classification based on remotely sensed data alone. Spectral signatures do not always provide the basis for an unambiguous separation of pixels into classes. Expert knowledge does, however, provide additional lines of evidence that can be employed to modify the belief that a pixel belongs to a certain coverage class. We used Dempster–Shafer (DS) weight of evidence modelling to incorporate this information into the classification process in a formal manner. Expert knowledge‐based variables were related to: (1) altitude, (2) slope, (3) distance to known human settlements and (4) landscape perceptions regarding dominance of vegetation types. The results showed an improvement of classification results compared with traditional classifiers (maximum likelihood) and context operators (modal filters), leading to better discrimination between categories and (i) a decrease in errors of omission and commission for almost all classes and (ii) a decrease in total error of around 7.5%. The DS approach led not only to a more accurate classification but also to a richer description of the inherent uncertainty surrounding it.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Departamento de Geografía, Universidad de Alcalá, C.P. 28801 Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain 2: Departamento de Ecología, Universidad de Alcalá, C.P. 28871 Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain

Publication date: May 1, 2006

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