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Research article2010Peer reviewed

Monitoring landscape metrics by point sampling: accuracy in estimating Shannon's diversity and edge density

Ramezani Habib, Holm Sören, Allard Anna, Ståhl Göran


Environmental monitoring of landscapes is of increasing interest. To quantify landscape patterns, a number of metrics are used, of which Shannon's diversity, edge length, and density are studied here. As an alternative to complete mapping, point sampling was applied to estimate the metrics for already mapped landscapes selected from the National Inventory of Landscapes in Sweden (NILS). Monte-Carlo simulation was applied to study the performance of different designs. Random and systematic samplings were applied for four sample sizes and five buffer widths. The latter feature was relevant for edge length, since length was estimated through the number of points falling in buffer areas around edges. In addition, two landscape complexities were tested by applying two classification schemes with seven or 20 land cover classes to the NILS data. As expected, the root mean square error (RMSE) of the estimators decreased with increasing sample size. The estimators of both metrics were slightly biased, but the bias of Shannon's diversity estimator was shown to decrease when sample size increased. In the edge length case, an increasing buffer width resulted in larger bias due to the increased impact of boundary conditions; this effect was shown to be independent of sample size. However, we also developed adjusted estimators that eliminate the bias of the edge length estimator. The rates of decrease of RMSE with increasing sample size and buffer width were quantified by a regression model. Finally, indicative cost-accuracy relationships were derived showing that point sampling could be a competitive alternative to complete wall-to-wall mapping.


Monitoring landscapes; Landscape pattern metrics; Root mean square error; Monte-Carlo simulation; Bias; Cost efficiency; Wall-to-wall; Buffer area

Published in

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
2010, Volume: 164, number: 1-4, pages: 403-421