Using a hybrid fuzzy classifier (HFC) to map typical grassland vegetation in Xilin River Basin, Inner Mongolia, China

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Geography and Geology


Community ecologists and vegetation scientists in grassland research have a strong interest in quantifying biotic communities in detail. However, a satisfactory classification with fine biotic details has been challenged by the coarse resolutions of Landsat images, although they are easily accessible. In this paper, a hybrid fuzzy classifier (HFC) for vegetation classification with Landsat ETM+ imagery on the typical grassland in Xilinhe River Basin, Inner Mongolia, China has been developed. Three vegetation classification systems were created from different aspects: the botanical system (Bio-classes, also as the final mapping units for vegetation cover), the combined botanical and spectral system (Bio-S classes), and the spectral system (Spec-classes). The HFC designed a fuzzy logic to measure the similarity between Spec-classes, extracted by the unsupervised classification, and Bio-S classes, built from the field samples, when considering the spectral variations of samples within the same Bio-class. Then, Bio-S classes, which served as a bridge for assigning Spec-classes to the target Bio-classes, were merged to restore Bio-classes for the final mapping. To assess the classification accuracy, the HFC was compared with a conventional supervised classification (CSC). The overall result of the HFC was much better than that of the CSC, with an accuracy percentage of 80.2% as compared to 69.0% for the CSC.

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