Quantifying western U.S. rangelands as a series of fractional components with remote sensing provides a new way to understand these changing ecosystems. Nine rangeland ecosystem components, including percent shrub, sagebrush (Artemisia), big sagebrush, herbaceous, annual herbaceous, litter, and bare ground cover, along with sagebrush and shrub heights, were quantified at 30 m resolution. Extensive ground measurements, two scales of remote sensing data from commercial high-resolution satellites and Landsat 8, and regression tree models were used to create component predictions. In the mapped area (2,993,655 km²), bare ground averaged 45.5%, shrub 15.2%, sagebrush 4.3%, big sagebrush 2.9%, herbaceous 23.0%, annual herbaceous 4.2%, and litter 15.8%. Component accuracies using independent validation across all components averaged R2 values of 0.46 and an root mean squared error (RMSE) of 10.37, and cross-validation averaged R2 values of 0.72 and an RMSE of 5.09. Component composition strongly varies by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) level III ecoregions (n = 32): 17 are bare ground dominant, 11 herbaceous dominant, and four shrub dominant. Sagebrush physically covers 90,950 km², or 4.3%, of our study area, but is present in 883,449 km², or 41.5%, of the mapped portion of our study area.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Quantifying western U.S. rangelands as fractional components with landsat|
|Series title||Remote Sensing|
|Contributing office(s)||Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center|
|Description||412, 26 p.|
|State||Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Texas, Washington, Wyoming|