Invasive Species Mapping in Estuarine Wetlands Using High-resolution Aerial Imagery

Authors: Matthew Walter*, University of Delaware
Topics: Remote Sensing, Environment, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: GIS, Remote Sensing, Phragmites, Wetlands, Invasive, Species, Delaware
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 24
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Phragmites australis is a widespread invasive plant species in the United States that greatly impacts
wetlands by creating dense patches and outcompeting other plants. The invasion of the plant into wetland ecosystems
is known to decrease biodiversity, destroy the habitat of threatened and endangered bird species, and alter
biogeochemistry. While the impact of phragmites is well-known, the extent to which the plant affects wetlands is not
known across the United States. Through the use of high-resolution imagery from the National Agricultural Imagery
Program (NAIP), phragmites is mapped for the entire state of Delaware. Normalized difference vegetation index
(NDVI) and principal component analysis (PCA) bands are generated from the NAIP data and used as inputs in a
Random Forest classifier to achieve a high overall accuracy for the phragmites classification of around 94%. The
classified map has a spatial resolution of 1m and documents the spatial distribution of phragmites throughout the
state (around 17% of all plants in estuarine wetlands). Such detailed classification could aid in monitoring the
spread of this invasive species over time and would inform decision-making process for landscape managers.

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