J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2005, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (9): -.DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7909.2005.00134.x

• Research Articles •    

Improvement, Comparison, and Application of Field Measurement Methods for Grassland Vegetation Fractional Coverage

Xiao-Bing LI, Yun-Hao CHEN, Hua YANG and Yun-Xia ZHANG   

Abstract: As one of the important vegetation parameters, vegetation fractional coverage (VFC) is more difficult to measure accurately among a good many parameters of plant communities. The temperate typical steppe in the north of China was chosen for investigation in the present study and a digital camera was used to measure herb community coverage in the field, adopting methods of ocular estimation, gridding measurement, visual interpretation, supervised classification, and information extraction of color spatial transformation to calculate the VFC of images captured by the digital camera. In addition VFC calculated by various methods was analyzed and compared VFC, enabling us to propose an effective method for measuring VFC using a digital camera. The results of the present study indicate that: (i) as two common useful and effective methods of measuring VFC with a digital camera, not only does the error of estimated values of visual estimation and supervised classification vary considerably, but the degree of automatization is very low and depends, to a great extent, on the manipulator; (ii) although the method of visual interpretation may assure the precision of the calculated VFC and enable the precision of results obtained using other methods to be determined, as far as large quantities of data are concerned, this method has the disadvantages of wasting time and energy, and the applications of this method are limited; (iii) the precision and stability of VFC calculated using the grid and node method are superior to those of visual estimation and supervised classification and inferior to those of visual interpretation, but, as for visual interpretation and supervised classification, gridding measurements are difficult to apply in practice because they are not time efficient; and (iv) in terms of the precision of calculation of the VFC, an information-extracting model based on an intensity, hue, saturation (IHS) color space-multi-component series segmentation strategy is superior to methods of ocular estimation, gridding measurement, and supervised classification. In terms of practical efficiency, the information-extracting model is superior to visual interpretation, supervised classification, and gridding measurement. It has been proven that estimating the VFC of the north temperate typical steppe using this model is feasible. This is very fundamental research work in grassland ecology.

Key words: color space transformation, digital camera, field measurement, grassland, vegetation fractional coverage.

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