Continuous field mapping has to address two conflicting remote sensing requirements when collecting training data. On one hand, continuous field mapping trains fractional land cover and thus favours mixed training pixels. On the other hand, the spectral signature has to be preferably distinct and thus favours pure training pixels. The aim of this study was to evaluate the sensitivity of training data distribution along fractional and spectral gradients on the resulting mapping performance. We derived four continuous fields (tree, shrubherb, bare, water) from aerial photographs as response variables and processed corresponding spectral signatures from multitemporal Landsat 5 TM data as explanatory variables. Subsequent controlled experiments along fractional cover gradients were then based on generalised linear models. Resulting fractional and spectral distribution differed between single continuous fields, but could be satisfactorily trained and mapped. Pixels with fractional or without respective cover were much more critical than pure full cover pixels. Error distribution of continuous field models was non-uniform with respect to horizontal and vertical spatial distribution of target fields. We conclude that a sampling for continuous field training data should be based on extent and densities in the fractional and spectral, rather than the real spatial space. Consequently, adequate training plots are most probably not systematically
distributed in the real spatial space, but cover the gradient and covariate structure of the fractional and
spectral space well.