Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2008 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Observing and Mapping Urban Landscapes Globally Using Google Earth
Sener, Scott
Co-Authors: Scott Sener1, Erle C. Ellis1 ,David Potere2 and Mutlu Ozdogan3 1Department of Geography & Environmental Systems, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD 21250 2 Office of Population Research, Princeton University, 207 Wallace Hal
Abstract: Humans are fragmenting Earth’s landscapes, but how much does a particular population fragment a landscape? Here we describe a procedure for observing and mapping landscape fragmentation at high spatial resolutions in urban and other areas on a global scale. A global sample of imagery obtained from Google Earth was mapped to observe land cover patterns by interpreting high-resolution imagery in a Geographic Information System (GIS) using a tablet PC. High-resolution sample images were geo-referenced, projected and digitized using GIS into eight land cover classes: built, water, barren, woody vegetation, trees, annual crop, woody crop, and herbaceous. Land cover maps were then used to obtain both land cover area estimates and estimates of landscape fragmentation based on landscape metrics calculated using FRAGSTATS software. Global relationships between human population density and cultivated land areas were then examined using quantitative statistical methods. Use of high resolution global image sampling offers a way forward in investigating the structure of urban and other anthropogenic landscapes at high spatial resolutions using quantitative methods.