Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Steven H. Ackers; Raymond J. Davis; Keith A. Olsen; Katie M. Dugger
    Date: 2015
    Source: Remote Sensing of Environment. 156: 361-373.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (4.52 MB)


    Wildlife habitat mapping has evolved at a rapid pace over the last fewdecades. Beginning with simple, often subjective, hand-drawn maps, habitat mapping now involves complex species distribution models (SDMs) using mapped predictor variables derived from remotely sensed data. For species that inhabit large geographic areas, remote sensing technology is often essential for producing range wide maps. Habitat monitoring for northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurinam>

    We used maximum entropy (Maxent) SDM modeling software to compare predictive performance and estimates of habitat area between Landsat-based and lidar-based northern spotted owl SDMs and habitat maps. We explored the differences and similarities between these maps, and to a pre-existing aerial photo interpreted habitat map produced by local wildlife biologists. The lidar-based map had the highest predictive performance based on 10 bootstrapped replicate models (AUC = 0.809 ± 0.011), but the performance of the Landsat-based map was within acceptable limits (AUC = 0.717 ± 0.021). As is common with photo interpreted maps, there was no accuracy assessment available for comparison. The photo-interpreted map produced the highest and lowest estimates of habitat area, depending on which habitat classes were included (nesting, roosting, and foraging habitat = 9962 ha, nesting habitat only = 6036 ha). The Landsat-based map produced an estimate of habitat area that was within this range (95% CI: 6679–9592 ha), while the lidar-based map produced an area estimate similar to what was interpreted by local wildlife biologists as nesting (i.e., high quality) habitat using aerial imagery (95% CI: 5453–7216). Confidence intervals of habitat area estimates from the SDMs based on Landsat and lidar overlapped.

    We concluded that both Landsat- and lidar-based SDMs produced reasonable maps and area estimates for northern spotted owl habitat within the study area. The lidar-based map was more precise and spatially similar to what local wildlife biologists considered spotted owl nesting habitat. The Landsat-based map provided a less precise spatial representation of habitat within the relatively small geographic confines of the study area, but habitat area estimates were similar to both the photo-interpreted and lidar-based maps.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Ackers, Steven H.; Davis, Raymond J.; Olsen, Keith A.; Dugger, Katie M. 2015. The evolution of mapping habitat for northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina): A comparison of photo-interpreted, Landsat-based, and LiDAR-based habitat maps. Remote Sensing of Environment. 156: 361-373.


    Google Scholar


    Landsat TM, Lidar, Northern spotted owl, Habitat suitability, Maxent, Species distribution modeling, GNN

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page