Mapping Tree Density in Forests of the Southwestern USA Using Landsat 8 Data

Kamal Humagain, Carlos Portillo Quintero, Robert Cox, James Cain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increase of tree density in forests of the American Southwest promotes extreme fire events, understory biodiversity losses, and degraded habitat conditions for many wildlife species. To ameliorate these changes, managers and scientists have begun planning treatments aimed at reducing fuels and increasing understory biodiversity. However, spatial variability in tree density across the landscape is not well-characterized, and if better known, could greatly influence planning efforts. We used reflectance values from individual Landsat 8 bands (bands 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7) and calculated vegetation indices (difference vegetation index, simple ratios, and normalized vegetation indices) to estimate tree density in an area planned for treatment in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico, characterized by multiple vegetation types and a complex topography. Because different vegetation types have different spectral signatures, we derived models with multiple predictor variables for each vegetation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15pgs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


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