Fractional cover mapping of invasive plant species by combining very high-resolution stereo and multi-sensor multispectral imageries.
Invasive plant species are major threats to biodiversity. They can be identified and monitored by means of high spatial resolution remote sensing imagery. This study aimed to test the potential of multiple very high-resolution (VHR) optical multispectral and stereo imageries (VHRSI) at spatial resolutions of 1.5 and 5 m to quantify the presence of the invasive lantana (Lantana camara L.) and predict its distribution at large spatial scale using medium-resolution fractional cover analysis. We created initial training data for fractional cover analysis by classifying smaller extent VHR data (SPOT-6 and RapidEye) along with three dimensional (3D) VHRSI derived digital surface model (DSM) datasets. We modelled the statistical relationship between fractional cover and spectral reflectance for a VHR subset of the study area located in the Himalayan region of India, and finally predicted the fractional cover of lantana based on the spectral reflectance of Landsat-8 imagery of a larger spatial extent. We classified SPOT-6 and RapidEye data and used the outputs as training data to create continuous field layers of Landsat-8 imagery. The area outside the overlapping region was predicted by fractional cover analysis due to the larger extent of Landsat-8 imagery compared with VHR datasets. Results showed clear discrimination of understory lantana from upperstory vegetation with 87.38% (for SPOT-6), and 85.27% (for RapidEye) overall accuracy due to the presence of additional VHRSI derived DSM information. Independent validation for lantana fractional cover estimated root-mean-square errors (RMSE) of 11.8% (for RapidEye) and 7.22% (for SPOT-6), and R2 values of 0.85 and 0.92 for RapidEye (5 m) and SPOT-6 (1.5 m), respectively. Results suggested an increase in predictive accuracy of lantana within forest areas along with increase in the spatial resolution for the same Landsat-8 imagery. The variance explained at 1.5 m spatial resolution to predict lantana was 64.37%, whereas it decreased by up to 37.96% in the case of 5 m spatial resolution data. This study revealed the high potential of combining small extent VHR and VHRSI- derived 3D optical data with larger extent, freely available satellite data for identification and mapping of invasive species in mountainous forests and remote regions.