Observing succession on aspen-dominated landscapes using a remote sensing-ecosystem approach

TitleObserving succession on aspen-dominated landscapes using a remote sensing-ecosystem approach
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsBergen KM, Dronova I
JournalLandscape Ecology

In the North American upper Great Lakes region, forests dominated by the aspens (Populus grandidentata Michx. v bigtooth aspen, and P. tremuloides Michx. v trembling aspen), which established after late 19th and early 20thcentury logging, are maturing and succession will create a new forest composition at landscape toregional scales. This study analyzed the capabilities of Landsat ETM+ remote sensing data combined with existing ecological land unit classifications to discriminate and quantify patterns of succession at the landscape scale over the 4200 ha University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) in northern Lower Michigan. In a hierarchical approach first multi-temporal Landsat ETM+ was used with a landscape ecosystem classification to map upland forest cover types (overall accuracy 91.7%). Next the aspen cover type was subset and successional pathways were mapped within that type (overall accuracy 89.8%). Results demonstrated that Landsat ETM+may be useful for these purposes; stratification of upland from wetland types using an ecological land unit classification eliminated confounding issues; multi-temporal methods discriminated evergreen conifer versus deciduous understories. The Landsat ETM+ classifications were then used to quantify succession and its relationship to landform-level ecological land units. Forests on moraine and ice contact landforms are succeeding distinctly to northernhardwoods (95% and 88% respectively); those on outwash and other landforms show greater diversity of successional pathways.