Use of an expert system to map forest soils from a geographical information system

Andrew K. Skidmore, Philip J. Ryan, Warwick Dawes, David Short, Emmett O'Loughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Citations (Scopus)


Mapping forest soils using conventional methods is time consuming and expensive. An expert system is described and applied to the mapping of five forest soil-landscape units formed on a single granitoid parent material. Three thematic maps were considered important in influencing the distribution of soils. The first showed the distribution of nine classes of native eucalypt forests, and the second and third were derived from a digital elevation mode! and represented slope gradient and a soil wetness index combined with topographical position. These layers were input to a raster based geographical information system (GIS) and then geometrically co-registered to a regular 30 m grid. From a knowledge of soil distributions, the relationships between the soil-landscape units and the three data layers were quantified by an experienced soil scientist and used as rules in a rule based expert system. The thematic layers accessed from the GIS provided data for the expert system to infer the forest soil-landscape unit most likely to occur at any given pixel. The soil-landscape map output by the expert system compared favourably with a conventional soil-landscape map generated using interpretation of aerial photographs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-445
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Geographical Information Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


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