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WyGISC completes first project in multiyear land cover mapping effort of Northwest Wyoming

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department Cody Region and State Offices and WyGISC have partnered to develop a land use and land cover mapping program for northwest Wyoming. The program leverages data collected and techniques gained in previous Game and Fish sponsored mapping efforts such as the Central Wyoming Remote Sensing and Southwest Wyoming Remote Sensing projects and the Wyoming Governor's Sage-Grouse Conservation: Habitat Mapping Project and is being conducted in projects or consecutive phases.

Classification results for priority area 1

Classification and mapping results for priority area 1 of the Cody Region and Yellowstone National Park land cover remote sensing project are complete. Extensive field collected reference data representing the range of plant communities and habitat types comprising the Bighorn Basin have been analyzed to produce a classification of land cover types based on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) Wildlife Observation System (WOS).

Bighorn Basin study area and field survey locations

Bighorn Basin study area and field survey locations

Corresponding land cover classes were subsequently spatially modeled using a non-parametric Classification and Regression Tree (CART) algorithm that integrated spectral data from Landsat Thematic Mapper satellite and National Aerial Photography Program imagery, spectral indices designed to enhance the signal and response of vegetation, and a variety of ancillary environmental data derived predominantly from digital elevation models hypothesized to be significant ecological drivers of plant distributions.

A total of 56 land cover classes were identified and modeled for the Absaroka Front Area of the Bighorn Basin. An additional eight anthropogenic types, including areas disturbed by oil extraction, mining, and agriculture, were delineated using external data, interpretations of high resolution imagery, and other modeling methods. CART based land cover classes and anthropogenic classes were spatially merged and the combined map was processed using a customized aggregation routine that generated a final map of land cover classes with a target spatial resolution or minimum mapping unit (MMU) size of 2 acres.

Final aggregated map of 64 land cover classes in Area 1 of the Bighorn Basin with a 2 acre MMU resolution.

Final aggregated map of 64 land cover classes in area 1.

Comprehensive accuracy assessment using independent test data was not performed due to funding and logistical constraints associated with additional field surveys required for the collection of independent test data. A variety of methods were used to provisionally evaluate map accuracy including re-substitution, cross-validation using randomized subsets of reference data, and partitioning techniques to generate independent test data. Resulting overall model accuracy ranged from a lower limit of 67% to an upper limit of 87%. Prediction errors associated with individual cover classes were variable. Causes of prediction error are attributed to the quantity of training and test data available in particular classes, the quality or accuracy of the reference data, and variation in the biology and ecological amplitude of species comprising individual cover classes.

Future efforts to improve modeling performance may include additional field data collection to increase training data sample sizes for selected cover classes, further research into the effectiveness of supplementary explanatory variables or alternative combinations of variables, and an investigation of the influence of spatial scale on prediction accuracy.

Product deliverables include a final report and geospatial data representing the final CART based land cover model for Area 1 of the Bighorn Basin in 30-meter raster format.

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