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Open AccessArticle

Using Remote Sensing to Identify Drivers behind Spatial Patterns in the Bio-physical Properties of a Saltmarsh Pioneer

1
NIOZ Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Department of Estuarine and Delta Systems, and Utrecht University, P.O. Box 140, 4400 AC Yerseke, The Netherlands
2
Department of Biology, Faculty of Marine and Environmental Sciences, University of Cádiz, 11510 Puerto Real (Cádiz), Spain
3
Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(5), 511; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11050511
Received: 29 January 2019 / Revised: 22 February 2019 / Accepted: 26 February 2019 / Published: 2 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Satellite-Based Wetland Observation)
Recently, spatial organization in salt marshes was shown to contain vital information on system resilience. However, in salt marshes, it remains poorly understood what shaping processes regulate spatial patterns in soil or vegetation properties that can be detected in the surface reflectance signal. In this case study we compared the effect on surface reflectance of four major shaping processes: Flooding duration, wave forcing, competition, and creek formation. We applied the ProSail model to a pioneering salt marsh species (Spartina anglica) to identify through which vegetation and soil properties these processes affected reflectance, and used in situ reflectance data at the leaf and canopy scale and satellite data on the canopy scale to identify the spatial patterns in the biophysical characteristics of this salt marsh pioneer in spring. Our results suggest that the spatial patterns in the pioneer zone of the studied salt marsh are mainly caused by the effect of flood duration. Flood duration explained over three times as much of the variation in canopy properties as wave forcing, competition, or creek influence. It particularly affects spatial patterns through canopy properties, especially the leaf area index, while leaf characteristics appear to have a relatively minor effect on reflectance. View Full-Text
Keywords: ProSail; salt marsh; Spartina; reflectance; spatial patterns; flood duration ProSail; salt marsh; Spartina; reflectance; spatial patterns; flood duration
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MDPI and ACS Style

Oteman, B.; Morris, E.P.; Peralta, G.; Bouma, T.J.; van der Wal, D. Using Remote Sensing to Identify Drivers behind Spatial Patterns in the Bio-physical Properties of a Saltmarsh Pioneer. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 511.

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