In the debate over global warming, treeline position is considered an important ecological indicator of climate change. Currently, analysis of upward treeline shift is often based on various spatial data processed by geomatic techniques. In this work, considering a selection of 31 reference papers, we assessed how the scientific community is using different methods to map treeline position and/or shifts using spatial datasets. We found that a significant number of published studies suffer from a low degree of awareness of processed data, which outcomes in potentially unreliable results that may compromise the validity of inference from the studies. Moreover, we propose an operational approach for easily incorporating consideration of spatial data quality, so as to improve reliability of results and better support ecological conclusions. Finally, we present a simulation of potential treeline vertical error for the Alpine region of Northern Italy, as driven by primary data quality.
optical remote sensing
Fissore, Vanina; Motta, Renzo; Palik, Brian; Borgogno Mondino, Enrico. 2015. The role of spatial data and geomatic approaches in treeline mapping: a review of methods and limitations. European Journal of Remote Sensing. 48: 777-792.