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Caribou Habitat Mapping in the Southern District of Keewatin, N.W.T.: An Application of Digital Landsat Data

Donald C. Thompson and Gary H. Klassen
Journal of Applied Ecology
Vol. 17, No. 1 (Apr., 1980), pp. 125-138
DOI: 10.2307/2402968
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2402968
Page Count: 14
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Caribou Habitat Mapping in the Southern District of Keewatin, N.W.T.: An Application of Digital Landsat Data
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Abstract

(1) A study was undertaken to delineate broad vegetation patterns of a land area of approximately 90 000 km$^2$ in the southern District of Keewatin, Northwest Territories and to determine the relative importance of broad areas as caribou habitat. (2) Vegetation mapping was based on eight summer LANDSAT scenes. Each scene was analysed using an unsupervised classification routine. Within each scene, areas displaying consistent image class mixtures were delineated visually and transferred to 1:1 000 000 and 1:250 000 base maps. These delineated units served as sampling units. Field sampling was conducted to determine the proportions of eight known vegetation cover types in each unit. Data on caribou use of these cover types were gathered-concurrently. Vegetation cover type proportions were summarized for each sampling unit and subjected to cluster analysis. Four complexes of adjacent sampling units with markedly different vegetation characteristics were identified, data on the caribou use of each cover type applied to these complexes, and conclusions concerning the relative importance of each complex to caribou were drawn. (3) Besides the usefulness of satellite imagery for vegetation mapping in a tundra environment, the study has demonstrated the need for, and nature of, a digital/visual analysis approach even when only relatively broad cover categories are sought.

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