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Mapping forest patches and scattered trees from SPOT images and testing their ecological importance for woodland birds in a fragmented agricultural landscape

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Scattered trees represent an important element within the agricultural matrix for birds. The aims of this study were to develop methods for mapping isolated trees from satellite imagery and to assess the importance of isolated trees for bird species richness. Field sampling of birds and plants was conducted at 120 sites in south-east Australia. We mapped tree cover from Landsat and SPOT images using a combination of spectral and segmentation based methods. Mapping of isolated trees as point objects was highly accurate (80-90%). Tree cover at spatial extents of 3-28 ha around sites explained 60% of the variability in woodland-dependent bird species richness. However, isolated trees in agricultural areas made just a small contribution to explaining the spatial variability in overall avian richness. This approach can be used for more extensive assessment of avian habitat quality from high spatial resolution images across a range of human modified landscapes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Science (CRSSIS), School of Geography, Planning and Architecture, St. Lucia Campus, University of Queensland, Brisbane QLD 4072, Australia 2: Science and Research Division, Department of Primary Industries, Beecroft, NSW 2119, Australia

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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