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Combined use of spectral and structural characteristics for improved red band needle blight detection in pine plantation stands

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Magdalena SmigajORCiD, Dr Rachel GaultonORCiD, Professor Stuart Barr



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


© 2018 Elsevier B.V. Current trends in research for detection of infections in forests almost exclusively involve the use of a single imaging sensor. However, combining information from a range of sensors could potentially enhance the ability to diagnose and quantify the infection. This study investigated the potential of combining hyperspectral and LiDAR data for red band needle blight detection. A comparative study was performed on the spectral signatures retrieved for two plots established in lodgepole pine stands and on a range of LiDAR metrics retrieved at individual tree-level. Leaf spectroscopy of green and partially chlorotic needles affected by red band needle blight highlighted the green, red and short near-infrared parts of the electromagnetic spectrum as the most promising. A good separation was found between the two pine stands using a number of spectral indices utilising those spectral regions. Similarly, a distinction was found when intra-canopy distribution of LiDAR returns was analysed. The percentage of ground returns within canopy extents and the height-normalised 50th percentile (height normalisation was performed to each tree's canopy extents) were identified as the most useful features among LiDAR metrics for separation of trees between the plots. Analysis based on those metrics yielded an accuracy of 80.9%, indicating a potential for using LiDAR metrics to detect disease-induced defoliation. Stepwise discriminant function analysis identified Enhanced Vegetation Index, Normalised Green Red Difference Index, percentage of ground returns, and the height-normalised 50th percentile to be the best predictors for detection of changes in the canopy resulting from red band needle blight. Using a combination of these variables led to a substantial decrease of unexplained variance within the data and an improvement in discrimination accuracy (96.7%). The results suggest combining information from different sensors can improve the ability to detect red band needle blight.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Smigaj M, Gaulton R, Suarez JC, Barr SL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Forest Ecology and Management

Year: 2019

Volume: 434

Pages: 213-223

Print publication date: 28/02/2019

Online publication date: 19/12/2018

Acceptance date: 03/12/2018

Date deposited: 17/12/2018

ISSN (print): 0378-1127

ISSN (electronic): 1872-7042

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2018.12.005


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