Inter-Seasonal Time Series Imagery Enhances Classification Accuracy of Grazing Resource and Land Degradation Maps in a Savanna Ecosystem

Frederick D.l. Hunter, Edward T.a. Mitchard, Peter Tyrrell, Samantha Russell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In savannas, mapping grazing resources and indicators of land degradation is important for assessing ecosystem conditions and informing grazing and land management decisions. We investigated the effects of classifiers and used time series imagery—images acquired within and across seasons—on the accuracy of plant species maps. The study site was a grazed savanna in southern Kenya. We used Sentinel-2 multi-spectral imagery due to its high spatial (10–20 m) and temporal (five days) resolution with support vector machine (SVM) and random forest (RF) classifiers. The species mapped were important for grazing livestock and wildlife (three grass species), indicators of land degradation (one tree genus and one invasive shrub), and a fig tree species. The results show that increasing the number of images, including dry season imagery, results in improved classification accuracy regardless of the classifier (average increase in overall accuracy (OA) = 0.1632). SVM consistently outperformed RF, and the most accurate model and was SVM with a radial kernel using imagery from both wet and dry seasons (OA = 0.8217). Maps showed that seasonal grazing areas provide functionally different grazing opportunities and have different vegetation characteristics that are critical to a landscape’s ability to support large populations of both livestock and wildlife. This study highlights the potential of multi-spectral satellite imagery for species-level mapping of savannas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198
JournalRemote Sensing
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2020

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