Modelling the current fractional cover of an invasive alien plant and drivers of its invasion in a dryland ecosystem

Shiferaw, Hailu; Schaffner, Urs; Bewket, Woldeamlak; Alamirew, Tena; Zeleke, Gete; Teketay, Demel; Eckert, Sandra (2019). Modelling the current fractional cover of an invasive alien plant and drivers of its invasion in a dryland ecosystem. Scientific Reports, 9(1) Nature Publishing Group 10.1038/s41598-018-36587-7

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The development of spatially diferentiated management strategies against invasive alien plant species requires a detailed understanding of their current distribution and of the level of invasion across the invaded range. The objectives of this study were to estimate the current fractional cover gradient of invasive trees of the genus Prosopis in the Afar Region, Ethiopia, and to identify drivers of its invasion. We used seventeen explanatory variables describing Landsat 8 image refectance, topography, climate and landscape structures to model the current cover of Prosopis across the invaded range using the random forest (RF) algorithm. Validation of the RF algorithm confrmed high model performance with an accuracy of 92% and a Kappa-coefcient of 0.8. We found that, within 35 years after its introduction, Prosopis has invaded approximately 1.17 million ha at diferent cover levels in the Afar Region (12.3% of the surface). Normalized diference vegetation index (NDVI) and elevation showed the highest explanatory power among the 17 variables, in terms of both the invader’s overall distribution as well as areas with high cover. Villages and linear landscape structures (rivers and roads) were found to be more important drivers of future Prosopis invasion than environmental variables, such as climate and topography, suggesting that Prosopis is likely to continue spreading and increasing in abundance in the case study area if left uncontrolled. We discuss how information on the fractional cover and the drivers of invasion can help in developing spatially-explicit management recommendations against a target invasive plant species.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Eckert, Sandra

Subjects:

900 History > 910 Geography & travel

ISSN:

2045-2322

Publisher:

Nature Publishing Group

Projects:

[411] Woody invasive alien species in East Africa
[803] Cluster: Land Resources
[804] Socio-Economic Transition

Language:

English

Submitter:

Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

08 May 2019 16:04

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 03:34

Publisher DOI:

10.1038/s41598-018-36587-7

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.128144

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/128144

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