Canopy spectral characteristics of typical invasive and native plants in the coastal wetland of Yancheng City, China.
Spartina alterniflora (S. alterniflora) is a dominant invasive alien species that occurs in Yancheng Wetland National Nature Reserve, the largest coastal wetland in China. It expands rapidly and exerts great threats to local ecosystem. The main native species there are Phragmites australis (P. australis) and Suaeda salsa (S. salsa), respectively. In order to monitor their dynamics, it is of great significance to analyze their spectral discrimination. Canopy spectra of these typical species were measured in July and October in order to compare species differences, as well as the seasonal variation. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) was calculated based on canopy spectra. The significances of differences in spectral characteristic among species were tested using the one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) (P < 0.05). The results showed that the visible (VI) bands were the optimum wavelengths for species discrimination in both seasons. S. alterniflora always had the greatest green peak height and red absorption depth. S. salsa had no obvious green peak, but an obvious red reflection peak. P. australis generally had intermediate values. Spectra in the near-infrared (NIR) bands were not appropriate for delineating S. alterniflora and P. australis in summer, as they showed similar values in these wavelengths. But NIR bands could be used to distinguish S. salsa in summer, as it had significantly lower reflectance in NIR bands than the others. Meanwhile, the reflectance in short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) bands became another suitable approach for distinguishing species in autumn. S. salsa had significantly higher values than the others in SWIR regions. Significant NDVI differences between different species proved that it could improve the species discrimination. S. alterniflora always had the highest NDVI values, while S. salsa had the lowest values. The seasonal trend of canopy spectra was also revealed. With plant maturity, the reflectance values in green bands and NIR bands decreased significantly, but increased significantly around the yellow-red wavelengths. The green peak heights, red absorption depths, and NDVI values of the species decreased remarkably. Furthermore, S. alterniflora and P. australis illustrated obvious 'blue shift' of the red edge with senescence. These results pointed out the the potential bands and appropriate spectral parameters appropriate for species discrimination, and highlighted the influence of seasonality on spectral information. They provided an important basis for salt marshes identification and dynamic monitoring on a large scale.