Resource distribution and dynamics: mapping herbivore resources


  • A.K. Skidmore
  • J.G. Ferwerda


The distribution of food is an important predictor for the distribution and density of herbivores in an ecosystem. Determining the distribution and densities of resource quantity and quality in space and time is therefore a crucial step towards understanding the spatial arrangement of herbivores. In recent years remote sensing has become the tool of choice for producing high spatial-resolution impressions of the variability of the landscape, and in particular land cover. Remote sensing is slowly moving away from mapping the surface into discrete land-cover classes. More and more, it is now used to produce highly accurate probability maps of presence, depicting the percentage of individual pixels covered with a certain surface element. This more closely represents the continuous nature of natural phenomena. Recent studies have indicated that it is possible to measure the chemical composition of foliage too. Recently a case study in Kruger National Park confirmed that it is possible to measure nitrogen concentration and phenolic compound levels in grass and trees accurately, with a spatial resolution of 4 meters. This opens doors for new lines of research, where the distribution of herbivores can be linked to the actual resource distribution