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Evaluation of Remote-sensed Land Cover Products

Three main remote-sensed land cover mapping products, derived from satellite imagery, cover the boreal regions of Canada:  

In conjunction with the Natural Resources Canada (Canadian Forest Service) and Environment Canada (Space for Habitat), BAM evaluated these three alternatives for habitat modelling.

We evaluated the potential utility of the three products to model avian abundance data indirectly, by assessing their  classification accuracy against standardised vegetation mapping data from western Canada  (Seed et al. 2009). The preliminary conclusion was that the 250-m resolution Land Cover Map of Canada 2005 (LCC 2005) data were the most appropriate for habitat modelling that BAM would undertake throughout the boreal region. The legend for this MODIS-based product defined 39 habitat types. The description and images for each category are described here. (It should be noted that Natural Resources Canada is using a newer version of their land cover classification with only 31 categories. The category numbers included on our website refer to the 2005 product.)

We considered that 39 classes were too many for statistical analysis, given the spatial distribution of our data as of 2008. Accordingly, we reclassified them down to 17 classes, based on representation within the BAM dataset, geographic distribution, similarity within the 39-class hierarchical legend, and estimated mean abundances of three widely-distributed bird species within these 39 classes. The cross-classification table is shown below:

BAM Land Cover Class Name BAM Code LCC05 Labels
Closed Coniferous 1 1
Closed Deciduous 2 2
Closed Mature Mixed 3 3
Closed Young Mixed 4 4
Closed Deciduous Mixed 5 5
Open Coniferous 6 6,7
Sparse Coniferous 8 8,13,20
Sparse Coniferous Shield 9 9
Poorly Drained 10 10,19
Open Mature Deciduous 11 11
Open Young Deciduous 12 12,16
Open Mixed 14 14
Open Young Mixed 15 15
Open Herb/Grass 17 17,18
Open Northern 21 21,22,23,24,25,30,31,32
Mixed Forest/Crop 26 26,27,28,29
Burns 33 33,34,35
Not Used   36,37,38,39