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Open AccessArticle

Detection of Annual Spruce Budworm Defoliation and Severity Classification Using Landsat Imagery

1
School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, 5755 Nutting Hall, Orono, ME 04469, USA
2
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Quebec in Montreal, Montreal, QC H3C 3P8, Canada
3
Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB E3B 5A3, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2018, 9(6), 357; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9060357
Received: 10 May 2018 / Revised: 9 June 2018 / Accepted: 12 June 2018 / Published: 14 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Protection Strategy against Spruce Budworm)
Spruce budworm (SBW) is the most destructive forest pest in eastern forests of North America. Mapping annual current-year SBW defoliation is challenging because of the large landscape scale of infestations, high temporal/spatial variability, and the short period of time when detection is possible. We used Landsat-5 and Landsat-MSS data to develop a method to detect and map SBW defoliation, which can be used as ancillary or alternative information for aerial sketch maps (ASMs). Results indicated that Landsat-5 data were capable of detecting and classifying SBW defoliation into three levels comparable to ASMs. For SBW defoliation classification, a combination of three vegetation indices, including normalized difference moisture index (NDMI), enhanced vegetation index (EVI), and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), were found to provide the highest accuracy (non-defoliated: 77%, light defoliation: 60%, moderate defoliation: 52%, and severe defoliation: 77%) compared to using only NDMI (non-defoliated: 76%, light defoliation: 40%, moderate defoliation: 43%, and severe defoliation: 67%). Detection of historical SBW defoliation was possible using Landsat-MSS NDVI data, and the produced maps were used to complement coarse-resolution aerial sketch maps of the past outbreak. The method developed for Landsat-5 data can be used for current SBW outbreak mapping in North America using Landsat-8 and Sentinel-2 imagery. Overall, the work highlights the potential of moderate resolution optical remote sensing data to detect and classify fine-scale patterns in tree defoliation. View Full-Text
Keywords: forest pests; defoliation; spruce budworm; multi-spectral remote sensing; Acadian region; Maine; Quebec forest pests; defoliation; spruce budworm; multi-spectral remote sensing; Acadian region; Maine; Quebec
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Rahimzadeh-Bajgiran, P.; Weiskittel, A.R.; Kneeshaw, D.; MacLean, D.A. Detection of Annual Spruce Budworm Defoliation and Severity Classification Using Landsat Imagery. Forests 2018, 9, 357.

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