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Broad-scale spatial pattern of forest landscape types in the Guiana Shield

Gond V., Freycon V., Molino J.F., Brunaux O., Ingrassia F., Joubert P., Pekel J.F., Prévost M.F., Thierron V., Trombe P.J., Sabatier D.. 2011. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation, 13 (3) : p. 357-367.

Detecting broad scale spatial patterns across the South American rainforest biome is still a major challenge. Although several countries do possess their own, more or less detailed landcover map, these are based on classifications that appear largely discordant from a country to another. Up to now, continental scale remote sensing studies failed to fill this gap. They mostly result in crude representations of the rainforest biome as a single, uniform vegetation class, in contrast with open vegetations. A few studies identified broad scale spatial patterns, but only when they managed to map a particular forest characteristic such as biomass. The main objective of this study is to identify, characterize and map distinct forest landscape types within the evergreen lowland rainforest at the subcontinental scale of the Guiana Shield (northeast tropical SouthAmerica 10? North2 ? South; 66? West50 ? West). This study is based on the analysis of a 1year daily data set (from January 1st to December 31st, 2000) from the VEGETATION sensor onboard the SPOT4 satellite (1km spatial resolution). We interpreted remotely sensed landscape classes (RSLC) from field and high resolution remote sensing data of 21 sites in French Guiana. We crossanalyzed remote sensing data, field observations and environmental data using multivariate analysis. We obtained 33 remotely sensed landscape classes (RSLC) among which five forestRSLC representing 78% of the forested area. The latter were classified as different broad forest landscape types according to a gradient of canopy openness. Their mapping revealed a new and meaningful broadscale spatial pattern of forest landscape types. At the scale of the Guiana Shield, we observed a spatial patterns similarity between climatic and forest landscape types. The two most open forestRSLCs were observed mainly within the northwest to southeast dry belt. The three other forestRSLCs were observed in wetter and less anthropized areas, particularly in the newly recognized "Guianan dense forest arch". Better management and conservation policies, as well as improvement of biological and ecological knowledge, require accurate and stable representations of the geographical components of ecosystems. Our results represent a decisive step in this way for the Guiana Shield area and contribute to fill one of the major shortfall in the knowledge of tropical forests. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : télédétection; forêt tropicale; paysage; guyane française

Thématique : Méthodes de relevé; Foresterie - Considérations générales; Géographie

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