Landsat classification of surface-water presence during multiple years to assess response of playa wetlands to climatic variability across the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative region

Open-File Report 2017-1166
Prepared in cooperation with the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, New Mexico
By:  and 

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Abstract

To improve understanding of the distribution of ecologically important, ephemeral wetland habitats across the Great Plains, the occurrence and distribution of surface water in playa wetland complexes were documented for four different years across the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GPLCC) region. This information is important because it informs land and wildlife managers about the timing and location of habitat availability. Data with an accurate timestamp that indicate the presence of water, the percent of the area inundated with water, and the spatial distribution of playa wetlands with water are needed for a host of resource inventory, monitoring, and research applications. For example, the distribution of inundated wetlands forms the spatial pattern of available habitat for resident shorebirds and water birds, stop-over habitats for migratory birds, connectivity and clustering of wetland habitats, and surface waters that recharge the Ogallala aquifer; there is considerable variability in the distribution of playa wetlands holding water through time. Documentation of these spatially and temporally intricate processes, here, provides data required to assess connections between inundation and multiple environmental drivers, such as climate, land use, soil, and topography. Climate drivers are understood to interact with land cover, land use and soil attributes in determining the amount of water that flows overland into playa wetlands. Results indicated significant spatial variability represented by differences in the percent of playas inundated among States within the GPLCC. Further, analysis-of-variance comparison of differences in inundation between years showed significant differences in all cases. Although some connections with seasonal moisture patterns may be observed, the complex spatial-temporal gradients of precipitation, temperature, soils, and land use need to be combined as covariates in multivariate models to effectively account for these patterns. We demonstrate the feasibility of using classification of Landsat satellite imagery to describe playa-wetland inundation across years and seasons. Evaluating classifications representing only 4 years of imagery, we found significant year-to-year and state-to-state differences in inundation rates.

Suggested Citation

Manier, D.J., and Rover, J.R., 2018, Landsat classification of surface-water presence during multiple years to assess response of playa wetlands to climatic variability across the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative region: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017–1166, 20 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20171166.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Conclusions
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Landsat classification of surface-water presence during multiple years to assess response of playa wetlands to climatic variability across the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative region
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2017-1166
DOI 10.3133/ofr20171166
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description iv, 20 p.
Country United States
Other Geospatial Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative
Online Only (Y/N) Y