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Open Access Predicting Palustrine Wetland Probability Using Random Forest Machine Learning and Digital Elevation Data-Derived Terrain Variables

The probability of palustrine wetland occurrence in the state of West Virginia, USA, was mapped based on topographic variables and using random forests (RF) machine learning. Models were developed for both selected ecological subregions and the entire state. The models were first trained using pixels randomly selected from the United States National Wetland Inventory (NWI) dataset and were tested using a separate random subset from the NWI and a database of wetlands not found in the NWI provided by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (WVDNR). The models produced area under the curve (AUC) values in excess of 0.90, and as high as 0.998. Models developed in one ecological subregion of the state produced significantly different AUC values when applied to other subregions, indicating that the topographical models should be extrapolated to new physiographic regions with caution. Several previously unexplored DEM-derived terrain variables were found to be of value, including distance from water bodies, roughness, and dissection. Non-NWI wetlands were mapped with an AUC value of 0.956, indicating that the probability maps may be useful for finding potential palustrine wetlands not found in the NWI .

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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  • The official journal of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing - the Imaging and Geospatial Information Society (ASPRS). This highly respected publication covers all facets of photogrammetry and remote sensing methods and technologies.

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