Use of landsat and SRTM data to detect broad-scale biodiversity patterns in Northwestern Amazonia

Mark A. Higgins, Gregory P. Asner, Eneas Perez, Nydia Elespuru, Hanna Tuomisto, Kalle Ruokolainen, Alfonso Alonso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Vegetation maps are the starting point for the design of protected areas and regional conservation plans. Accurate vegetation maps are missing for much of Amazonia, preventing the development of effective and compelling conservation strategies. Here we used a network of 160 inventories across northwestern Amazonia to evaluate the use of Landsat and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data to identify floristic and edaphic patterns in Amazonian forests. We first calculated the strength of the relationship between these remotely-sensed data, and edaphic and floristic patterns in these forests, and asked how sensitive these results are to image processing and enhancement. We additionally asked if SRTM data can be used to model patterns in plant species composition in our study areas. We find that variations in Landsat and SRTM data are strongly correlated with variations in soils and plant species composition, and that these patterns can be mapped solely on the basis of SRTM data over limited areas. Using these data, we furthermore identified widespread patch-matrix floristic patterns across northwestern Amazonia, with implications for conservation planning and study. Our findings provide further evidence that Landsat and SRTM data can provide a cost-effective OPEN means for mapping these forests, and we recommend that maps generated from a combination of remotely-sensed and field data be used as the basis for conservation prioritization and planning in these vast and remote forests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2401-2418
Number of pages18
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Amazonia
  • Floristic composition
  • Geology
  • Landsat
  • NDVI
  • Pteridophytes
  • Soils
  • Srtm
  • Vegetation mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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