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Downscaling land-use data to provide global 30″ estimates of five land-use classes

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
  • Andrew J. Hoskins
  • Alex Bush
  • James Gilmore
  • Tom Harwood
  • Lawrence N. Hudson
  • Chris Ware
  • Kristen J. Williams
  • Simon Ferrier
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/05/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Ecology and Evolution
Issue number9
Volume6
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)3040-3055
Publication statusPublished
Early online date30/03/16
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Land‐use change is one of the biggest threats to biodiversity globally. The effects of land use on biodiversity manifest primarily at local scales which are not captured by the coarse spatial grain of current global land‐use mapping. Assessments of land‐use impacts on biodiversity across large spatial extents require data at a similar spatial grain to the ecological processes they are assessing. Here, we develop a method for statistically downscaling mapped land‐use data that combines generalized additive modeling and constrained optimization. This method was applied to the 0.5° Land‐use Harmonization data for the year 2005 to produce global 30″ (approx. 1 km2) estimates of five land‐use classes: primary habitat, secondary habitat, cropland, pasture, and urban. The original dataset was partitioned into 61 bio‐realms (unique combinations of biome and biogeographical realm) and downscaled using relationships with fine‐grained climate, land cover, landform, and anthropogenic influence layers. The downscaled land‐use data were validated using the PREDICTS database and the geoWiki global cropland dataset. Application of the new method to all 61 bio‐realms produced global fine‐grained layers from the 2005 time step of the Land‐use Harmonization dataset. Coarse‐scaled proportions of land use estimated from these data compared well with those estimated in the original datasets (mean R2: 0.68 ± 0.19). Validation with the PREDICTS database showed the new downscaled land‐use layers improved discrimination of all five classes at PREDICTS sites (P < 0.0001 in all cases). Additional validation of the downscaled cropping layer with the geoWiki layer showed an R2 improvement of 0.12 compared with the Land‐use Harmonization data. The downscaling method presented here produced the first global land‐use dataset at a spatial grain relevant to ecological processes that drive changes in biodiversity over space and time. Integrating these data with biodiversity measures will enable the reporting of land‐use impacts on biodiversity at a finer resolution than previously possible. Furthermore, the general method presented here could be useful to others wishing to downscale similarly constrained coarse‐resolution data for other environmental variables.