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National Park Service Vegetation Mapping Inventory Program: Natchez Trace Parkway vegetation mapping project report

July 1, 2016

The National Park Service (NPS) Vegetation Mapping Inventory (VMI) Program is an effort to classify, describe, and map existing vegetation of national park units for the NPS Natural Resource Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Program. The NPS VMI Program is managed by the NPS I&M Division and provides baseline vegetation information to the NPS Natural Resource I&M Program. The U.S. Geological Survey Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, NatureServe, NPS Gulf Coast Network, and NPS Natchez Trace Parkway (NATR; also referred to as Parkway) have completed vegetation classification and mapping of NATR for the NPS VMI Program.

Mappers, ecologists, and botanists collaborated to affirm vegetation types within the U.S. National Vegetation Classification (USNVC) of NATR and to determine how best to map them by using aerial imagery. Analyses of data from 589 vegetation plots had been used to describe an initial 99 USNVC associations in the Parkway; this classification work was completed prior to beginning this NATR vegetation mapping project. Data were collected during this project from another eight quick plots to support new vegetation types not previously identified at the Parkway. Data from 120 verification sites were collected to test the field key to vegetation associations and the application of vegetation associations to a sample set of map polygons. Furthermore, data from 900 accuracy assessment (AA) sites were collected (of which 894 were used to test accuracy of the vegetation map layer). The collective of all these datasets resulted in affirming 122 USNVC associations at NATR.

To map the vegetation and open water of NATR, 63 map classes were developed. including the following: 54 map classes represent natural (including ruderal) vegetation types in the USNVC, 5 map classes represent cultural (agricultural and developed) vegetation types in the USNVC, 3 map classes represent nonvegetation open-water bodies (non-USNVC), and 1 map class represents landscapes that had received tornado damage a few months prior to the time of aerial imagery collection. Features were interpreted from viewing 4-band digital aerial imagery by means of digital onscreen three-dimensional stereoscopic workflow systems in geographic information systems. (The aerial imagery was collected during mid-October 2011 for the northern reach of the Parkway and mid-November 2011 for the southern reach of the Parkway to capture peak leaf-phenology of trees.) The interpreted data were digitally and spatially referenced, thus making the spatial-database layers usable in geographic information systems. Polygon units were mapped to either a 0.5 hectare (ha) or 0.25 ha minimum mapping unit, depending on vegetation type or scenario.

A geodatabase containing various feature-class layers and tables present the locations of USNVC vegetation types (vegetation map), vegetation plot samples, verification sites, AA sites, project boundary extent, and aerial image centers. The feature-class layer and related tables for the vegetation map provide 13,529 polygons of detailed attribute data covering 21,655.5 ha, with an average polygon size of 1.6 ha; the vegetation map coincides closely with the administrative boundary for NATR.

Summary reports generated from the vegetation map layer of the map classes representing USNVC natural (including ruderal) vegetation types apply to 12,648 polygons (93.5% of polygons) and cover 18,542.7 ha (85.6%) of the map extent for NATR. The map layer indicates the Parkway to be 70.5% forest and woodland (15,258.7 ha), 0.3% shrubland (63.0 ha), and 14.9% herbaceous cover (3,221.0 ha). Map classes representing USNVC cultural types apply to 678 polygons (5.0% of polygons) and cover 2,413.9 ha (11.1%) of the map extent.

Publication Year 2016
Title National Park Service Vegetation Mapping Inventory Program: Natchez Trace Parkway vegetation mapping project report
Authors Kevin D. Hop, Andrew C. Strassman, Carl Nordman, Milo Pyne, Rickie White, Joseph Jakusz, Erin E. Hoy, Jennifer Dieck
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Series Title Natural Resource Report
Series Number NPS/GULN/NRR—2016/1255
Index ID 70178837
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center