Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Multiscale Very-High Resolution Topographic Models in Alpine Ecology: Pros and Cons of Airborne LiDAR and Drone-Based Stereo-Photogrammetry Technologies

Version 1 : Received: 23 March 2021 / Approved: 24 March 2021 / Online: 24 March 2021 (12:30:37 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Guillaume, A.S.; Leempoel, K.; Rochat, E.; Rogivue, A.; Kasser, M.; Gugerli, F.; Parisod, C.; Joost, S. Multiscale Very High Resolution Topographic Models in Alpine Ecology: Pros and Cons of Airborne LiDAR and Drone-Based Stereo-Photogrammetry Technologies. Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 1588. Guillaume, A.S.; Leempoel, K.; Rochat, E.; Rogivue, A.; Kasser, M.; Gugerli, F.; Parisod, C.; Joost, S. Multiscale Very High Resolution Topographic Models in Alpine Ecology: Pros and Cons of Airborne LiDAR and Drone-Based Stereo-Photogrammetry Technologies. Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 1588.

Journal reference: Remote Sens. 2021, 13, 1588
DOI: 10.3390/rs13081588

Abstract

The vulnerability of alpine environments to climate change presses an urgent need to accurately model and understand these ecosystems. Popularity in use of digital elevation models (DEMs) to derive proxy environmental variables has increased over the past decade, particularly as DEMs are relatively cheaply acquired at very high resolutions (VHR; <1m spatial resolution). Here, we implement a multiscale framework and compare DEM-derived variables produced by Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) and stereo-photogrammetry (PHOTO) methods, with the aims of assessing their relevance and utility in species distribution modelling (SDM). Using a case study on the arctic-alpine plant Arabis alpina in two valleys in the western Swiss Alps, we show that both LiDAR and PHOTO technologies can be relevant for producing DEM-derived variables for use in SDMs. We demonstrate that PHOTO DEMs rivalled the accuracy of LiDAR, putting the current paradigm of LiDAR being the more accurate of the two methods into question. We obtained DEMs at spatial resolutions of 6.25cm-8m for PHOTO and 50cm-32m for LiDAR, where we determined that the optimal spatial resolutions of DEM-derived variables in SDM were between 1 and 32m, depending on the variable and site characteristics. We found that the reduced extent of PHOTO DEMs altered the calculations of all derived variables, which had particular consequences on their relevance at the site with heterogenous terrain. However, for the homogenous site, we found that SDMs based on PHOTO-derived variables generally had higher predictive powers than those derived from LiDAR at matching resolutions. From our results, we recommend carefully considering the required DEM extent to produce relevant derived variables. We also advocate implementing a multiscale framework to appropriately assess the ecological relevance of derived variables, where we caution against the use of VHR-DEMs finer than 50cm in such studies.

Keywords

Alpine ecology; Arabis alpina; Digital Elevation Models (DEMs); Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR); Multiscale; Photogrammetry; Spatial scale; Species distribution models (SDM); Terrain attributes; Very-high resolution

Subject

BIOLOGY, Anatomy & Morphology

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