Canadian Forest Service Publications

Assessment of Quickbird high spatial resolution imagery to detect red attack damage due to mountain pine beetle infestation. 2006. Coops, N.C.; Johnson, M.; Wulder, M.A.; White, J.C. Remote Sensing of Environment 103: 67-80.

Year: 2006

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26248

Language: English

CFS Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (download)

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High spatial resolution remotely sensed data has the potential to complement existing forest health programs for both strategic planning over large areas, as well as for detailed and precise identification of tree crowns subject to stress and infestation. The area impacted by the current mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) outbreak in British Columbia, Canada, has increased 40-fold over the previous 5 years, with approximately 8.5 million ha of forest infested in 2005. As a result of the spatial extent and intensity of the outbreak, new technologies are being assessed to help detect, map, and monitor the damage caused by the beetle, and to inform mitigation of future beetle outbreaks. In this paper, we evaluate the capacity of high spatial resolution QuickBird multi-spectral imagery to detect mountain pine beetle red attack damage. ANOVA testing of individual spectral bands, as well as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and a ratio of red to green reflectance (Red- Green Index or RGI), indicated that the RGI was the most successful (p<0.001) at separating non-attack crowns from red attack crowns. Based on this result, the RGI was subsequently used to develop a binary classification of red attack and non-attack pixels. The total number of QuickBird pixels classified as having red attack damage within a 50 m buffer of a known forest health survey point were compared to the number of red attack trees recorded at the time of the forest health survey. The relationship between the number of red attack pixels and observed red attack crowns was assessed using independent validation data and was found to be significant (r2=0.48, p<0.001, standard error=2.8 crowns). A comparison of the number of QuickBird pixels classified as red attack, and a broader scale index of mountain pine beetle red attack damage (Enhanced Wetness Difference Index, calculated from a time series of Landsat imagery), was significant (r2=0.61, p<0.001, standard error=1.3 crowns). These results suggest that high spatial resolution imagery, in particular QuickBird satellite imagery, has a valuable role to play in identifying tree crowns with red attack damage. This information could subsequently be used to augment existing detailed forest health surveys, calibrate synoptic estimates of red attack damage generated from overview surveys and/or coarse scale remotely sensed data, and facilitate the generation of value-added information products, such as estimates of timber volume impacts at the forest stand level.

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