Spatial predictions of tree density and tree height across Mexico forests using ensemble learning and forest inventory data.

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    • Abstract:
      The National Forestry Commission of Mexico continuously monitors forest structure within the country's continental territory by the implementation of the National Forest and Soils Inventory (INFyS). Due to the challenges involved in collecting data exclusively from field surveys, there are spatial information gaps for important forest attributes. This can produce bias or increase uncertainty when generating estimates required to support forest management decisions. Our objective is to predict the spatial distribution of tree height and tree density in all Mexican forests. We performed wall‐to‐wall spatial predictions of both attributes in 1‐km grids, using ensemble machine learning across each forest type in Mexico. Predictor variables include remote sensing imagery and other geospatial data (e.g., mean precipitation, surface temperature, canopy cover). Training data is from the 2009 to 2014 cycle (n > 26,000 sampling plots). Spatial cross validation suggested that the model had a better performance when predicting tree height r2 =.35 [.12,.51] (mean [min, max]) than for tree density r2 =.23 [.05,.42]. The best predictive performance when mapping tree height was for broadleaf and coniferous‐broadleaf forests (model explained ~50% of variance). The best predictive performance when mapping tree density was for tropical forest (model explained ~40% of variance). Although most forests had relatively low uncertainty for tree height predictions, e.g., values <60%, arid and semiarid ecosystems had high uncertainty, e.g., values >80%. Uncertainty values for tree density predictions were >80% in most forests. The applied open science approach we present is easily replicable and scalable, thus it is helpful to assist in the decision‐making and future of the National Forest and Soils Inventory. This work highlights the need for analytical tools that help us exploit the full potential of the Mexican forest inventory datasets. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
    • Abstract:
      Copyright of Ecology & Evolution (20457758) is the property of Wiley-Blackwell and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts.)