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Representation of Uncertainty and Integration of PGIS-based Grazing Intensity Maps Using Evidential Belief Functions

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In a project to classify livestock grazing intensity using participatory geographic information systems (PGIS), we encountered the problem of how to synthesize PGIS-based maps of livestock grazing intensity that were prepared separately by local experts. We investigated the utility of evidential belief functions (EBFs) and Dempster's rule of combination to represent classification uncertainty and integrate the PGIS-based grazing intensity maps. These maps were used as individual sets of evidence in the application of EBFs to evaluate the proposition that “This area or pixel belongs to the high, medium, or low grazing intensity class because the local expert(s) says (say) so”. The class-area-weighted averages of EBFs based on each of the PGIS-based maps show that the lowest degree of classification uncertainty is associated with maps in which “vegetation species” was used as the mapping criterion. This criterion, together with local landscape attributes of livestock use may be considered as an appropriate standard measure for grazing intensity. The maps of integrated EBFs of grazing intensity show that classification uncertainty is high when the local experts apply at least two mapping criteria together. This study demonstrates the usefulness of EBFs to represent classification uncertainty and the possibility to use the EBF values in identifying and using criteria for PGIS-based mapping of livestock grazing intensity.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC) 2: Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds 3: Resource Ecology Group, Wageningen University

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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