Anthropogenic Ecotope Mapping (AEM)

Mapping Soft Features without Clear Edges

 Ecotope features without clear edges are soft features with fuzzy edges and relatively heterogeneous cores resulting from gradual variation in vegetation cover, making these a challenge to map consistently by image interpretation and groundtruthing.  The main goal in mapping these features is to capture substantial differences in land use and vegetation cover within the largest vegetation patches while avoiding detailed distinctions that cannot be consistently applied by ecologists and land managers under both current and historic mapping conditions.

Disturbed features
Humans often have significant ecological impacts without consistent intention to cause these, especially in areas surrounding high impact land uses such as artificial structures and mines.  These Disturbed areas can be identified and mapped based on the concept of a potentially Disturbed zone surrounding artificial structures and mines.
Vegetation patches
Vegetation varies gradually across large, relatively undisturbed areas.  Even when this variation is apparent in imagery and on the ground, the consistent and repeatable mapping of discrete features within gradually varying vegetation is a major challenge for feature mapping by image interpretation and groundtruthing.  We therefore limit the mapping of these features to contiguous vegetation cover patches ≥ 30 m in dimension (area ≥1000 m2) that differ significantly from surrounding cover within even larger soft features with area ≥1 ha.  This scale rule limits mapping to the most consistently identifiable features and facilitates the use of higher spectral resolution systems (e.g. Landsat) for vegetation classification where vegetation cover varies more gradually.