Mapping the species richness and composition of tropical forests from remotely sensed data with neural networks

Giles M. Foody, Mark E. J. Cutler

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    The understanding and management of biodiversity is often limited by a lack of data. Remote sensing has considerable potential as a source of data on biodiversity at spatial and temporal scales appropriate for biodiversity management. To-date, most remote sensing studies have focused on only one aspect of biodiversity, species richness, and have generally used conventional image analysis techniques that may not fully exploit the data's information content. Here, we report on a study that aimed to estimate biodiversity more fully from remotely sensed data with the aid of neural networks. TWO neural network models, feedforward networks to estimate basic indices of biodiversity and Kohonen networks to provide. information on species composition, were used. Biodiversity indices of species richness and evenness derived from the remotely sensed data were strongly correlated with those derived from field survey. For example, the predicted tree species richness was significantly correlated with that observed in the field (r = 0.69, significant at the 95% level of confidence). In addition, there was a high degree of correspondence (similar to 83%) between the partitioning of the outputs from Kohonen networks applied to tree species and remotely sensed data sets that indicated the potential to map species composition. Combining the outputs of the two sets of neural network based analyses enabled a map of biodiversity to be produced. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)37-42
    Number of pages6
    JournalEcological Modelling
    Issue number1-2
    Early online date19 Dec 2005
    Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2006


    • Remote sensing
    • Biodiversity
    • Neural network
    • Tropical forest


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