Schütz Martin

Remote sensing versus field survey for vegetation mapping – a contradiction?

Project Number: CH-6395
Project Type: Master
Project Duration: 01/01/2002 - 12/31/2002 project completed
Funding Source: other ,
Leading Institution: WSL Birmensdorf, University of Zürich
Project Leader: Dr. Martin Schütz
Ökologie der Lebensgemeinschaften
Zürcherstrasse 111
8903 Birmensdorf
Phone: ; +41 (0) 44 739 25 26
FAX: +41 (0) 44 739 22 15
e-Mail: martin.schuetz(at)

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computation sciences


A major topic in biology and environmental science is to describe and understand the patterns of the distribution and abundance of organisms. Remote sensing techniques can help to make such patterns visible. In this study, I used such techniques combined with various GIS layers of environmental factors to search for vegetation patterns in the alpine landscape of the Swiss National Park. GIS based stratification of the study area was examined with vegetation surveys of plant species composition in 26 selected strata and estimations of aboveground net primary production (ANPP) in nine strata. The analysis of the vegetation surveys revealed highly significant differences between the strata in terms of plant species and composition and the GIS based stratification corresponded generally well with differences in the vegetation composition. However, stratification failed sometimes in geological transition zones or in areas with small-scale changes in vegetation cover. The strata were also well discriminated with ANPP. However, discriminating power was smaller than that of the vegetation composition. This pattern was probably caused by high precipitation during my study in the summer 2008, which resulted in low variation of ANPP between the strata. Overall, the combination of remote sensing with GIS techniques proved to be successful in detecting vegetation patterns in the study area. These techniques might be helpful for future studies in this high alpine landscape, where access is partly difficult and disturbance should be restricted to a minimum.


Caliaro, S. 2002: Remote sensing versus field survey for vegetation mapping – a contradiction? Master thesis in Ecology, University of Zürich.

PDF Master thesis

Last update: 3/27/18
Source of data: ProClim- Research InfoSystem (1993-2020)
Update the data of project: CH-6395

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