Assessing the performance of different obia software approaches for mapping invasive alien plants along roads with remote sensing data.
Roads and roadsides provide dispersal channels for non-native invasive alien plants (IAP), many of which hold devastating impacts in the economy, human health, biodiversity and ecosystem functionality. Remote sensing is an essential tool for efficiently assessing and monitoring the dynamics of IAP along roads. In this study, we explore the potentialities of object based image analysis (OBIA) approach to map several invasive plant species along roads using very high spatial resolution imagery. We compared the performance of OBIA approaches implemented in one open source software (OTB/Monteverdi) against those available in two proprietary programs (eCognition and ArcGIS). We analysed the images by two sequential processes. First, we obtained a land-cover map for 15 study sites by segmenting the images with the algorithms Mean Shift Segmentation (MSS) and Multiresolution Segmentation (MRS), and by classifying the segmented images with the algorithms Support Vector Machine (SVM), Nearest Neighbour Classifier (NNC) and Maximum Likelihood Classifier (MLC). We created a mask using the polygons classified as non-vegetation to crop the images of the 15 study sites. Second, we repeated the previous segmentation and classification steps over the 15 masked images of vegetated areas using the same algorithms. OTB/Monteverdi, with MSS and SVM algorithms, showed to be a good software for land-cover mapping (OA = 87.0%), as well as ArcGIS, with MSS and MLC algorithms (OA = 84.3%). However, these two programs, using the same segmentation algorithms, did not achieve good accuracy results when mapping IAP species (OAOTB/Monteverdi = 63.3%; OAArcGIS = 45.7%). eCognition, with MRS and NNC algorithms, reached better classification results in both land-cover and IAP maps (OALand-cover = 95.7%; OAInvasive-plant = 92.8%). 'Bare soil' and 'Road', and 'A. donax' were the classes with best and worst overall accuracy, respectively, when mapping land-cover classes in the three programs. 'Other trees' was the class with the most accurate and significant differences in the three programs when mapping IAP species. The separation of each invasive species should be improved with a phenology-based design of field surveys. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of sequential segmentation and classification of RS data for mapping and monitoring plant invasions along linear infrastructures, which allows to reduce the time, cost and hazard of extensive field campaigns along roadsides.