Western larch (Larix occidentalis Nutt.) is one of three native North American larch species, it occupies the mountainous regions of northwestern North America, and it is a deciduous conifer. Western larch is among the most ecologically and economically important conifer tree species in the northern Rockies region. This study explores the viability of mapping western larch via the analysis of multi-temporal Landsat imagery and gradient modeling. Larch presence and abundance data from 300 field plots correlated with Normalized Difference Vegetation Index seasonal change (NDVIsc) explains 46% of the variability in larch basal area. Multivariate models built with NDVIsc and additional climatic and topographic variables only slightly improved the models. These satellite imagery based models suggest that western larch tends to occur primarily on shaded, north-facing slopes within the study area. This analysis was contrasted with a gradient modeling approach using data from 4800 Forest Inventory and Analysis plots and a suite of fine scale (30-60 m) topographic and climatic data as predictors. These models correctly predicted larch presence with error rates of less than 20%. Presence or absence of western larch was found to be strongly dependent on minimum temperature and water balance variables (soil moisture deficit and actual evapotranspiration). Probability prediction rasters produced with these data also showed a noticeable northern aspect tendency. The accuracy of the remote sensing based models suggest that the method may be applied to other areas, and the output from both model types points to a strong relationship between larch presence and fine scale topographic and climatic factors, especially as they interact to affect soil moisture.
|Date||18 September 2013|
|Creators||Touzel, Steven Joseph|
|Contributors||David Shively, Zachary Holden, Andrew Larson|
|Publisher||The University of Montana|
|Source Sets||University of Montana Missoula|
|Rights||unrestricted, I hereby certify that, if appropriate, I have obtained and attached hereto a written permission statement from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis, dissertation, or project report, allowing distribution as specified below. I certify that the version I submitted is the same as that approved by my advisory committee. I hereby grant to University of Montana or its agents the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible, under the conditions specified below, my thesis, dissertation, or project report in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis, dissertation or project report. I also retain the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis, dissertation, or project report.|
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