Classification of mangrove species using satellite images is important for investigating the spatial distribution of mangroves at community and species levels on local, regional and global scales. Hence, studies of mangrove deforestation and reforestation are imperative to support the conservation of mangrove forests. However, accurate discrimination of mangrove species remains challenging due to many factors such as data resolution, species number and spectral confusion between species. In this study, three different combinations of datasets were designed from Worldview-3 and Radarsat-2 data to classify four mangrove species, Kandelia obovate
(KO), Avicennia marina
(AM), Acanthus ilicifolius
(AI) and Aegiceras corniculatum
(AC). Then, the Rotation Forest (RoF) method was employed to classify the four mangrove species. Results indicated the benefits of dual polarimetric SAR data with an improvement of accuracy by 2–3%, which can be useful for more accurate large-scale mapping of mangrove species. Moreover, the difficulty of classifying different mangrove species, in order of increasing difficulty, was identified as KO < AM < AI < AC. Dual polarimetric SAR data are recognized to improve the classification of AI and AC species. Although this improvement is not remarkable, it is consistent for all three methods. The improvement can be particularly important for large-scale mapping of mangrove forest at the species level. These findings also provide useful guidance for future studies using multi-source satellite data for mangrove monitoring and conservation.
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