Using LiDAR, Colour Infrared Imagery, and Ground Truth Data for Mapping and Characterizing Vegetation Succession on Disturbance Types: Implications for Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) Habitat Management

Posted on Sep 23, 2015



Correspondence: Michael L. Charlebois, Omnia Ecological Services, 722 – 27th Avenue NW, Calgary, Alberta, T2M 2J3, Canada. Email:

Submitted 9 June 2015 – Accepted 23 September 2015


Woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) occur throughout Canada’s boreal forest and have been declining both in distribution and population size along the southern extent of their range. Predation, hunting, and habitat loss/alteration due to industrial development are listed as potential causes of decline. Researchers have demonstrated that wolf (Canis lupus) movement rates are faster along human disturbances compared to adjacent forest and this poses increased predation risk for caribou. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is an optical scanning technology that uses lasers to measure distances between objects. his tool can be used to remotely measure vegetation cover and height over large areas. he objectives of this Alberta study were to: 1) utilize LiDAR and colour infrared imagery to map disturbances and to quantify and map levels of vegetation re-growth; 2) use ield data to characterize vegetation structure and composition on diferent disturbance types and in diferent ecosites; and 3) correlate vegetation ield data attributes with remotely sensed map data to assist in producing spatially explicit vegetation height and cover metrics that can be used for reclamation planning on a range of disturbance types and ecological site conditions. Our results indicate that there is a strong correlation between hiding cover data sampled in the ield and hiding cover metrics derived by LiDAR. As such, land managers can use these light detection and ranging metrics.

Key Words: Anthropogenic Disturbance, Footprint Mapping, LiDAR, Colour Infrared Imagery, Reclamation, Vegetation Recovery, Woodland Caribou


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