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A Spectral Mapping Signature for the Rapid Ohia Death (ROD) Pathogen in Hawaiian Forests
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

An Approach for High-Resolution Mapping of Hawaiian Metrosideros Forest Mortality Using Laser-Guided Imaging Spectroscopy

1
Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
2
Institute for Pacific Islands Forestry, Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 60 Nowelo St, Hilo, HI 96720, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(4), 502; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10040502
Received: 2 February 2018 / Revised: 27 February 2018 / Accepted: 20 March 2018 / Published: 22 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing of Tropical Forest Biodiversity)
Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death (ROD) is a disease aggressively killing large numbers of Metrosideros polymorpha (‘ōhi‘a), a native keystone tree species on Hawaii Island. This loss threatens to deeply alter the biological make-up of this unique island ecosystem. Spatially explicit information about the present and past advancement of the disease is essential for its containment; yet, currently such data are severely lacking. To this end, we used the Carnegie Airborne Observatory to collect Laser-Guided Imaging Spectroscopy data and high-resolution digital imagery across >500,000 ha of Hawaii Island in June–July 2017. We then developed a method to map individual tree crowns matching the symptoms of both active (brown; desiccated ‘ōhi‘a crowns) and past (leafless tree crowns) ROD infection using an ensemble of two distinct machine learning approaches. Employing a very conservative classification scheme for minimizing false-positives, model sensitivity rates were 86.9 and 82.5, and precision rates were 97.4 and 95.3 for browning and leafless crowns, respectively. Across the island of Hawaii, we found 43,134 individual crowns suspected of exhibiting the active (browning) stage of ROD infection. Hotspots of potential ROD infection are apparent in the maps. The peninsula on the eastern side of Hawaii known as the Puna district, where the ROD outbreak likely originated, contained a particularly high density of brown crown detections. In comparison, leafless crown detections were much more numerous (547,666 detected leafless crowns in total) and more dispersed across the island. Mapped hotspots of likely ROD incidence across the island will enable scientists, administrators, and land managers to better understand both where and how ROD spreads and how to apply limited resources to limiting this spread. View Full-Text
Keywords: biological invasion; Carnegie Airborne Observatory; forest pathogens; Hawaii Island; Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death biological invasion; Carnegie Airborne Observatory; forest pathogens; Hawaii Island; Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death
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Vaughn, N.R.; Asner, G.P.; Brodrick, P.G.; Martin, R.E.; Heckler, J.W.; Knapp, D.E.; Hughes, R.F. An Approach for High-Resolution Mapping of Hawaiian Metrosideros Forest Mortality Using Laser-Guided Imaging Spectroscopy. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 502.

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