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Remote Sens. 2018, 10(12), 2062;

Can UAV-Based Infrared Thermography Be Used to Study Plant-Parasite Interactions between Mistletoe and Eucalypt Trees?

Laboratory of Hydrology and Water Management, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Ecosystem Dynamics, Health and Resilience, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo 2007, NSW, Australia
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University, Richmond 2753, NSW, Australia
Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga 2650, NSW, Australia
Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 October 2018 / Revised: 11 December 2018 / Accepted: 17 December 2018 / Published: 19 December 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue High-Resolution Thermal Imaging for Vegetation Monitoring)
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Some of the remnants of the Cumberland Plain woodland, an endangered dry sclerophyllous forest type of New South Wales, Australia, host large populations of mistletoe. In this study, the extent of mistletoe infection was investigated based on a forest inventory. We found that the mistletoe infection rate was relatively high, with 69% of the Eucalyptus fibrosa and 75% of the E. moluccana trees being infected. Next, to study the potential consequences of the infection for the trees, canopy temperatures of mistletoe plants and of infected and uninfected trees were analyzed using thermal imagery acquired during 10 flights with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in two consecutive summer seasons. Throughout all flight campaigns, mistletoe canopy temperature was 0.3–2 K lower than the temperature of the eucalypt canopy it was growing in, suggesting higher transpiration rates. Differences in canopy temperature between infected eucalypt foliage and mistletoe were particularly large when incoming radiation peaked. In these conditions, eucalypt foliage from infected trees also had significantly higher canopy temperatures (and likely lower transpiration rates) compared to that of uninfected trees of the same species. The study demonstrates the potential of using UAV-based infrared thermography for studying plant-water relations of mistletoe and its hosts. View Full-Text
Keywords: infrared thermography; transpiration; plant hemiparasite; UAV infrared thermography; transpiration; plant hemiparasite; UAV

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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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Maes, W.H.; Huete, A.R.; Avino, M.; Boer, M.M.; Dehaan, R.; Pendall, E.; Griebel, A.; Steppe, K. Can UAV-Based Infrared Thermography Be Used to Study Plant-Parasite Interactions between Mistletoe and Eucalypt Trees? Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 2062.

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