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Assessing ecological habitat structure from local to landscape scales using synthetic aperture radar

Betbeder J., Hubert-Moy L., Burel F., Corgne S., Baudry J.. 2015. Ecological Indicators, 52 : p. 545-557.

Ecological studies need accurate environmental data such as vegetation characterization, landscape structure and organization, to predict and explain the spatial distribution of biodiversity. Few ecological studies use remote sensing data to assess the biophysical or structural properties of vegetation to understand species distribution. To date, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data have seldom been used for ecological applications. However, these sensors provide data allowing access to the inner structure of vegetation which is a key information in ecology. The objective of this article is to compare the predictive power of ecological habitat structure variables derived from a TerraSAR-X image, an aerial photograph and a SPOT-5 image for species distribution. The test was run with a hedgerow network in Brittany and assessed the spatial distribution of the forest ground carabid beetles which inhabit these hedgerows. The results confirmed that radar and optical images can be indifferently used to extract hedgerow network and derived landscape metrics (hedgerow density, network grain) useful to explain the spatial distribution of forest carabid beetles. In comparison with passive optical remotely sensed data, VHSR SAR images provide new data to characterize vegetation structure and more particularly hedgerow canopy cover, a variable known to explain the spatial distribution of carabid beetles in an agricultural landscape, but not yet quantified at a fine scale. The hedgerow canopy cover derived from the SAR image is a strong predictor of the abundance of forest carabid beetles at two scales i.e., a local scale and a landscape scale.

Thématique : Conservation de la nature et ressources foncières; Méthodes de relevé; Foresterie - Considérations générales

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