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Remote Sens. 2014, 6(5), 4515-4545; doi:10.3390/rs6054515

Evaluating the Potential of WorldView-2 Data to Classify Tree Species and Different Levels of Ash Mortality

1
Landscape Dynamics, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf 8903, Switzerland
2
Biodiversity and Conservation, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf 8903, Switzerland
3
Landesforst Mecklenburg–Vorpommern, Betriebsteil Forstplanung, Versuchswesen, Informationssysteme, Fachgebiet 033 Entwicklung und Betrieb IT-gestützter Fachverfahren, Schwerin 19061, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 12 March 2014 / Revised: 4 May 2014 / Accepted: 7 May 2014 / Published: 16 May 2014
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Abstract

Forest disturbances in central Europe caused by fungal pests may result in widespread tree mortality. To assess the state of health and to detect disturbances of entire forest ecosystems, up-to-date knowledge of the tree species diversity is essential. The German state Mecklenburg–Vorpommern is severely affected by ash (Fraxinus excelsior) dieback caused by the fungal pathogen Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus. In this study, species diversity and the magnitude of ash mortality was assessed by classifying seven different tree species and multiple levels of damaged ash. The study is based on a multispectral WorldView-2 (WV-2) scene and uses object-based supervised classification methods based on multinomial logistic regressions. Besides the original multispectral image, a set of remote sensing indices (RSI) was derived, which significantly improved the accuracies of classifying different levels of damaged ash but only slightly improved tree species classification. The large number of features was reduced by three approaches, of which the linear discriminant analysis (LDA) clearly outperformed the more commonly used principal component analysis (PCA) and a stepwise selection method. Promising overall accuracies (83%) for classifying seven tree species and (73%) for classifying four different levels of damaged ash were obtained. Detailed tree damage and tree species maps were visually inspected using aerial images. The results are of high relevance for forest managers to plan appropriate cutting and reforestation measures to decrease ash dieback over entire regions.
Keywords: ash dieback; variable selection; multispectral remote sensing; object-based image analysis; remote sensing indices; tree species; tree mortality ash dieback; variable selection; multispectral remote sensing; object-based image analysis; remote sensing indices; tree species; tree mortality
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Waser, L.T.; Küchler, M.; Jütte, K.; Stampfer, T. Evaluating the Potential of WorldView-2 Data to Classify Tree Species and Different Levels of Ash Mortality. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 4515-4545.

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