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Open AccessArticle

Mapping Land Cover and Estimating the Grassland Structure in a Priority Area of the Chihuahuan Desert

Programa Institucional de Doctorado en Ciencias Agropecuarias y Forestales, Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango, Durango 34307, Mexico
Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y Zootecnia, Universidad Juárez del Estado de Durango, Durango 34305, Mexico
Instituto Politécnico Nacional, CIIDIR, Durango 34220, Mexico
Facultad de Zootecnia y Ecología, Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, Chihuahua 31453, Mexico
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 September 2017 / Revised: 11 October 2017 / Accepted: 13 October 2017 / Published: 20 October 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Arid Land Systems: Sciences and Societies)
A field characterization of the grassland vegetation structure, represented by the coverage of grass canopy (CGC) and the grass height, was carried out during three years (2009–2011) in a priority area for the conservation of grasslands of North America. Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM5) images were selected and the information of reflectance was obtained based on the geographical location of each field-sampling site. Linear models, constructed with field and satellite data, with high coefficients of determination for CGC (R2 = 0.81, R2 = 0.81 and R2 = 0.72) and grass height (R2 = 0.82, R2 = 0.79 and R2 = 0.73) were obtained. The maps showed a good level of CGC (>25%) and grass height (>25 cm), except for the year 2009, which presented the lowest values of grass height in the area. According to the Kappa Index, a moderate concordance among the three CGC maps was presented (0.49–0.59). Conversely, weak and moderate concordances were found among the grass height maps (0.36–0.59). It was observed that areas with a high CGC do not necessarily correspond to areas with greater grass height values. Based on the data analyzed in this study, the grassland areas are highly dynamic, structurally heterogeneous and the spatial distribution of the variables does not show a definite pattern. From the information generated, it is possible to determine those areas that are the most important for monitoring to then establish effective strategies for the conservation of these grasslands and the protection of threatened migratory bird species. View Full-Text
Keywords: remote sensing; modelling; coverage; grass height; Cuchillas de la Zarca remote sensing; modelling; coverage; grass height; Cuchillas de la Zarca
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Rodríguez-Maturino, A.; Martínez-Guerrero, J.H.; Chairez-Hernández, I.; Pereda-Solis, M.E.; Villarreal-Guerrero, F.; Renteria-Villalobos, M.; Pinedo-Alvarez, A. Mapping Land Cover and Estimating the Grassland Structure in a Priority Area of the Chihuahuan Desert. Land 2017, 6, 70.

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