The potential for modelling peatland habitat condition in Scotland using long-term MODIS data

Rebekka Artz (Corresponding Author), Sally Johnson, Patricia Bruneau, Andrea J. Britton, Ruth J Mitchell, Louise Ross, Gillian Donaldson-Selby, David Donnelly, Matt J. Aitkenhead, Alessandro Gimona, Laura Poggio

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Globally, peatlands provide an important sink of carbon in their near natural state but potentially act as a source of gaseous and dissolved carbon emission if not in good condition. There is a pressing need to remotely identify peatland sites requiring improvement and to monitor progress following restoration. A medium resolution model was developed based on a training dataset of peatland habitat condition and environmental covariates, such as morphological features, against information derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), covering Scotland (UK). The initial, unrestricted, model provided the probability of a site being in favourable condition. Receiver operator characteristics (ROC) curves for restricted training data, limited to those located on a peat soil map, resulted in an accuracy of 0.915. The kappa statistic was 0.8151, suggesting good model fit. The derived map of predicted peatland condition at the suggested 0.56 threshold was corroborated by data from other sources, including known restoration sites, areas under known non-peatland land cover and previous vegetation survey data mapped onto inferred condition categories. The resulting locations of the areas of peatland modelled to be in favourable ecological condition were largely confined to the North and West of the country, which not only coincides with prior land use intensity but with published predictions of future retraction of the bioclimatic space for peatlands. The model is limited by a lack of spatially appropriate ground observations, and a lack of verification of peat depth at training site locations, hence future efforts to remotely assess peatland condition will require more appropriate ground-based monitoring. If appropriate ground-based observations could be collected, using remote sensing could be considered a cost-efficient means to provide data on changes in peatland habitat condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-442
Number of pages14
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date22 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2019


  • peatland
  • habitat condition
  • remote sensing
  • modelling
  • mapping
  • Mapping
  • Habitat condition
  • Remote sensing
  • Modelling
  • Peatland


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