The landscape ecology of secondary tropical forest in montane Costa Rica Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/70795d112

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  • Previous difficulties mapping tropical forest successional stage with satellite imagery may be one of the reasons why little is known about what socioeconomic and biophysical factors control tropical secondary forest pattern over landscapes. Additional remote sensing challenges occur in regions with steep topography, because the spectral responses of land covers vary with sun illumination angle and type of ecological zone. Using reference data from field observations and aerial photos, I used multi-date, Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) imagery to develop a classification scheme that identified secondary forests, agricultural lands and old-growth forests using the TM Tasseled Cap indices. The montane tropical study area was located in the Talamanca Mountain Range in southern Costa Rica. The Kappa accuracy for this classification was 83%. I also examined temporal patterns of spectral responses for various land covers and whether using digital data from multiple decades improved classification accuracy. Secondly, I characterized landscape pattern of the three main land-use/land-cover (LULC) classes of agriculture, secondary forest and old-growth forest. I also developed statistical models to identify landscape level controls on secondary forest spatial patterns. A matrix of agriculture dominated the landscape at lower elevations. While old growth dominated higher elevations. Logistic models of the relationships between LULC and biophysical and socioeconomic explanatory variables included landscape variables developed from the LULC map. Model results revealed that the probability of secondary forest occurrence, relative to agriculture, increased at higher elevation, on steeper slopes, further from roads, where population density was lower, and in forest reserve as opposed to unprotected lands. The directions of these relationships were the same as those that predicted old-growth forest relative to agriculture. All else equal, the theory of rent or utility maximization seemed to regulate secondary forest occurrence. Secondary forest occurred most abundantly at the edges between old-growth forest and agriculture that was intensive in its spatial continuity. Although secondary forest was strongly associated with a certain amount of nearby agriculture, it was more strongly associated with old-growth forest, providing evidence that tropical secondary forest is dependent on the landscape structure of remnant forest.
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