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Title: Using satellite and airborne LiDAR to model woodpecker habitat occupancy at the landscape scale

Author: Vierling, Lee A.; Vierling, Kerri T.; Adam, Patrick; Hudak, Andrew T.;

Date: 2013

Source: PLOS ONE. 8(12): e80988.

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Incorporating vertical vegetation structure into models of animal distributions can improve understanding of the patterns and processes governing habitat selection. LiDAR can provide such structural information, but these data are typically collected via aircraft and thus are limited in spatial extent. Our objective was to explore the utility of satellite-based LiDAR data from the Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) relative to airborne-based LiDAR to model the north Idaho breeding distribution of a forest-dependent ecosystem engineer, the Red-naped sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis). GLAS data occurred within ca. 64 m diameter ellipses spaced a minimum of 172 m apart, and all occupancy analyses were confined to this grain scale. Using a hierarchical approach, we modeled Red-naped sapsucker occupancy as a function of LiDAR metrics derived from both platforms. Occupancy models based on satellite data were weak, possibly because the data within the GLAS ellipse did not fully represent habitat characteristics important for this species. The most important structural variables influencing Red-naped Sapsucker breeding site selection based on airborne LiDAR data included foliage height diversity, the distance between major strata in the canopy vertical profile, and the vegetation density near the ground. These characteristics are consistent with the diversity of foraging activities exhibited by this species. To our knowledge, this study represents the first to examine the utility of satellite-based LiDAR to model animal distributions. The large area of each GLAS ellipse and the non-contiguous nature of GLAS data may pose significant challenges for wildlife distribution modeling; nevertheless these data can provide useful information on ecosystem vertical structure, particularly in areas of gentle terrain. Additional work is thus warranted to utilize LiDAR datasets collected from both airborne and past and future satellite platforms (e.g. GLAS, and the planned IceSAT2 mission) with the goal of improving wildlife modeling for more locations across the globe.

Keywords: LiDAR, Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS), Red-naped sapsucker, Sphyrapicus nuchalis

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

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Citation:


Vierling, Lee A.; Vierling, Kerri T.; Adam, Patrick; Hudak, Andrew T. 2013. Using satellite and airborne LiDAR to model woodpecker habitat occupancy at the landscape scale. PLOS ONE. 8(12): e80988.

 


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