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Remote Sens. 2015, 7(7), 9045-9069; doi:10.3390/rs70709045

Prediction of Macronutrients at the Canopy Level Using Spaceborne Imaging Spectroscopy and LiDAR Data in a Mixedwood Boreal Forest

1
Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24060, USA
2
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Ontario Forest Research Institute, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2E5, Canada
3
Department of Geography, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada
4
Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2E5, Canada
Current address: Environmental Change Initiative, University of Notre Dame, 1400 East Angela Blvd. Unit 117, South Bend, IN 46617, USA.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Nicolas Baghdadi and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Received: 18 April 2015 / Revised: 1 July 2015 / Accepted: 9 July 2015 / Published: 17 July 2015
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Abstract

Information on foliar macronutrients is required in order to understand plant physiological and ecosystem processes such as photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, respiration and cell wall formation. The ability to measure, model and map foliar macronutrients (nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg)) at the forest canopy level provides information on the spatial patterns of ecosystem processes (e.g., carbon exchange) and provides insight on forest condition and stress. Imaging spectroscopy (IS) has been used particularly for modeling N, using airborne and satellite imagery mostly in temperate and tropical forests. However, there has been very little research conducted at these scales to model P, K, Ca, and Mg and few studies have focused on boreal forests. We report results of a study of macronutrient modeling using spaceborne IS and airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data for a mixedwood boreal forest canopy in northern Ontario, Canada. Models incorporating Hyperion data explained approximately 90% of the variation in canopy concentrations of N, P, and Mg; whereas the inclusion of LiDAR data significantly improved the prediction of canopy concentration of Ca (R2 = 0.80). The combined used of IS and LiDAR data significantly improved the prediction accuracy of canopy Ca and K concentration but decreased the prediction accuracy of canopy P concentration. The results indicate that the variability of macronutrient concentration due to interspecific and functional type differences at the site provides the basis for the relationship observed between the remote sensing measurements (i.e., IS and LiDAR) and macronutrient concentration. Crown closure and canopy height are the structural metrics that establish the connection between macronutrient concentration and IS and LiDAR data, respectively. The spatial distribution of macronutrient concentration at the canopy scale mimics functional type distribution at the site. The ability to predict canopy N, P, K, Ca and Mg in this study using only IS, only LiDAR or their combination demonstrates the excellent potential for mapping these macronutrients at canopy scales across larger geographic areas into the next decade with the launch of new IS satellite missions and by using spaceborne LiDAR data. View Full-Text
Keywords: imaging spectroscopy; Hyperion; LiDAR; macronutrients; mixedwood boreal forest; partial least squares regression; species composition; functional types imaging spectroscopy; Hyperion; LiDAR; macronutrients; mixedwood boreal forest; partial least squares regression; species composition; functional types
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Gökkaya, K.; Thomas, V.; Noland, T.L.; McCaughey, H.; Morrison, I.; Treitz, P. Prediction of Macronutrients at the Canopy Level Using Spaceborne Imaging Spectroscopy and LiDAR Data in a Mixedwood Boreal Forest. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 9045-9069.

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