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Open AccessArticle

A Hybrid Model for Mapping Relative Differences in Belowground Biomass and Root: Shoot Ratios Using Spectral Reflectance, Foliar N and Plant Biophysical Data within Coastal Marsh

1
Department of Environmental Sciences Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
2
Department of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
3
Geological Survey, Western Geographic Science Center, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Richard W. Gould, Yoshio Inoue and Prasad S. Thenkabail
Remote Sens. 2015, 7(12), 16480-16503; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs71215837
Received: 27 July 2015 / Accepted: 25 November 2015 / Published: 5 December 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing in Coastal Environments)
Broad-scale estimates of belowground biomass are needed to understand wetland resiliency and C and N cycling, but these estimates are difficult to obtain because root:shoot ratios vary considerably both within and between species. We used remotely-sensed estimates of two aboveground plant characteristics, aboveground biomass and % foliar N to explore biomass allocation in low diversity freshwater impounded peatlands (Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, CA, USA). We developed a hybrid modeling approach to relate remotely-sensed estimates of % foliar N (a surrogate for environmental N and plant available nutrients) and aboveground biomass to field-measured belowground biomass for species specific and mixed species models. We estimated up to 90% of variation in foliar N concentration using partial least squares (PLS) regression of full-spectrum field spectrometer reflectance data. Landsat 7 reflectance data explained up to 70% of % foliar N and 67% of aboveground biomass. Spectrally estimated foliar N or aboveground biomass had negative relationships with belowground biomass and root:shoot ratio in both Schoenoplectus acutus and Typha, consistent with a balanced growth model, which suggests plants only allocate growth belowground when additional nutrients are necessary to support shoot development. Hybrid models explained up to 76% of variation in belowground biomass and 86% of variation in root:shoot ratio. Our modeling approach provides a method for developing maps of spatial variation in wetland belowground biomass. View Full-Text
Keywords: belowground biomass; carbon cycling; coastal tidal freshwater wetlands; eutrophication; Landsat; nitrogen cycling; productivity; root:shoot ratio; remote-sensing; sea level rise belowground biomass; carbon cycling; coastal tidal freshwater wetlands; eutrophication; Landsat; nitrogen cycling; productivity; root:shoot ratio; remote-sensing; sea level rise
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O’Connell, J.L.; Byrd, K.B.; Kelly, M. A Hybrid Model for Mapping Relative Differences in Belowground Biomass and Root: Shoot Ratios Using Spectral Reflectance, Foliar N and Plant Biophysical Data within Coastal Marsh. Remote Sens. 2015, 7, 16480-16503.

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