Animal Conservation

Percentage canopy cover – using Landsat imagery to delineate habitat for Myanmar's endangered Eld's deer (Cervus eldi)

Kevin Koy a1a2a3c1, William J. McShea a1a4, Peter Leimgruber a1, Barry N. Haack a2 and Myint Aung a5
a1 Conservation and Research Center, National Zoological Park, 1500 Remount Road, Front Royal, VA 22630, USA
a2 George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 22030-4444, USA
a3 Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th St., New York, NY, 10024, USA
a4 National Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society, Joint Forest Ecology Program
a5 Nature and Wildlife Conservation Division, Forest Department, West Gyogone, Insein, Yangon, Myanmar

Article author query
koy k   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
mcshea wj   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
leimgruber p   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
haack bn   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 
aung m   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Percentage canopy cover data derived from Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) sensor data, validated with field measurements, provide a useful tool for delineating Myanmar's Eld's deer (Cervus eldi) habitat. The current extent and condition of remaining Eld's deer habitat is unknown, but the species prefers dry dipterocarp forest. This habitat type has widely varying canopy cover and cannot be accurately delineated with traditional remote sensing techniques. New maps based on estimates of percentage canopy cover represent the variability of dry dipterocarp forests more accurately than maps of strict classes of habitat. Over 500 field measurements of canopy cover were used to train Landsat ETM+ data that were analysed with regression-tree analysis. The resulting satellite-based estimates of canopy cover were compared with an independent set of field validation points (r=0.539, P<0.001, n=114). The satellite-based estimates also showed potential for predicting the presence of Eld's deer (r=0.636, P<0.01, n=14). The results from the predictive maps are in accordance with previous field studies demonstrating the species' preference for dense, dry dipterocarp forest. Patterns of percentage tree-canopy cover across the study area were negatively correlated with human population density (r=-0.307, P<0.001, n=223), suggesting potential further threats to Eld's deer populations if the human population continues to grow.

(Published Online August 26 2005)
(Received May 10 2004)
(Accepted December 8 2004)

c1 All correspondence to: Kevin Koy, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024, USA. Tel: 212-313-7077; Fax: 212-313-7295; E-mail: