Searching. Please wait…

Modelling riparian forest distribution and composition to entire river networks

Abstract: Aim: Developing a methodology to map the distribution of riparian forests to entire river networks and determining the main environmental factors controlling their spatial patterns. Location: Cantabrian region, northern Spain. Methods: We mapped the riparian forests at a physiognomic and phytosociological levels by delimiting riparian zones and generating vegetation distribution models based on remote sensing data (Landsat 8 OLI and LiDAR PNOA). We built virtual watersheds to define a spatial framework where the catchment environmental information can be routed to each river reach, jointly with the vegetation map. In order to determine the drivers playing a significant role on the observed spatial patterns in the riparian forest we modelled interactions between these datasets of environmental information and riparian vegetation by using the Random Forest algorithm. Results: The modelling results obtained reproduced a reliable variation of riparian forest structure and composition across Cantabrian watersheds. The produced maps were highly accurate, with more than a 70% overall accuracy for the forest occurrence. A clear differentiation between Eurosiberian (91E0 and 9160 habitats) and Mediterranean (92E0) riparian forests was shown on both sides of the mountain range. Topography and land use were the main drivers defining the distribution of riparian forest as a physiognomic unit. In turn, altitude, climate and percentage of pasture were the most relevant factors determining their composition (phytosociological approach). Conclusions: Our study confirms that the anthropic control ultimately defines the distribution of the vegetation in the riparian area at a regional to local scale. Human disturbances constrain the extension of forest patches across their potential distribution defined by topoclimatic boundaries, which establish a clear limit between Mediterranean and Eurosiberian biogeographical regions.

Repository: Zenodo

 Year of publication: 2019

 DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3444285

 Full citation: Pérez-Silos, I., Barquín, J. & Álvarez-Martínez, J. M. (2019). Modelling riparian forest distribution and composition to entire river networks. [Dataset]. (Version 1). Zenodo.




Download reference