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Spatial structure analysis of a reptile community with airborne LiDAR data

AuthorsSillero, N.; Gonçalves-Seco, Luis
KeywordsLandscape ecology
Spatial statistics
Digital elevation or terrain models
Remote sensing
Issue Date2014
PublisherTaylor & Francis
CitationInternational Journal of Geographical Information Science 28(8): 1709-1722 (2014)
AbstractThe analysis of the spatial structure of animal communities requires spatial data to determine the distribution of individuals and their limiting factors. New technologies like very precise GPS as well as satellite imagery and aerial photographs of very high spatial resolution are now available. Data from airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors can provide digital models of ground and vegetation surfaces with pixel sizes of less than 1 m. We present the first study in terrestrial herpetology using LiDAR data. We aim to identify the spatial patterns of a community of four species of lizards (Lacerta schreiberi, Timon lepidus, Podarcis bocagei, and P. hispanica), and to determine how the habitat is influencing the distribution of the species spatially. The study area is located in Northern Portugal. The position of each lizard was recorded during 16 surveys of 1 h with a very precise GPS (error < 1 m). LiDAR data provided digital models of surface, terrain, and normalised height. From these data, we derived slope, ruggedness, orientation, and hill-shading variables. We applied spatial statistics to determine the spatial structure of the community. We computed Maxent ecological niche models to determine the importance of environmental variables. The community and its species presented a clustered distribution. We identified 14 clusters, composed of 1-3 species. Species records showed two distribution patterns, with clusters associated with steep and flat areas. Cluster outliers had the same patterns. Juveniles and subadults were associated with areas of low quality, while sexes used space in similar ways. Maxent models identified suitable habitats across the study area for two species and in the flat areas for the other two species. LiDAR allowed us to understand the local distributions of a lizard community. Remotely sensed data and LiDAR are giving new insights into the study of species ecology. Images of higher spatial resolutions are necessary to map important factors such as refuges. © 2014 © 2014 Taylor & Francis.
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Identifierse-issn: 1362-3087
issn: 0269-3798
Appears in Collections:(INCIPIT) Artículos

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