Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Land cover classification of complex agroecosystems in the non-protected highlands of the Galapagos islands.

Abstract

The humid highlands of the Galapagos are the islands' most biologically productive regions and a key habitat for endemic animal and plant species. These areas are crucial for the region's food security and for the control of invasive plants, but little is known about the spatial distribution of its land cover. We generated a baseline high-resolution land cover map of the agricultural zones and their surrounding protected areas. We combined the high spatial resolution of PlanetScope images with the high spectral resolution of Sentinel-2 images in an object-based classification using a RandomForest algorithm. We used images collected with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to verify and validate our classified map. Despite the astounding diversity and heterogeneity of the highland landscape, our classification yielded useful results (overall Kappa: 0.7, R2: 0.69) and revealed that across all four inhabited islands, invasive plants cover the largest fraction (28.5%) of the agricultural area, followed by pastures (22.3%), native vegetation (18.6%), food crops (18.3%), and mixed forest and pioneer plants (11.6%). Our results are consistent with historical trajectories of colonization and abandonment of the highlands. The produced dataset is designed to suit the needs of practitioners of both conservation and agriculture and aims to foster collaboration between the two areas.