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Mapping vegetation community types in a highly disturbed landscape: integrating hierarchical object-based image analysis with lidar-derived canopy height data

Snavely, Rachel A., Uyeda, Kellie A., Stow, Douglas A., O’Leary, John F., Lambert, Julie
International journal of remote sensing 2019 v.40 no.11 pp. 4384-4400
canopy, canopy height, image analysis, landscapes, lidar, near infrared photography, plant communities, remote sensing, shrubs, vegetation, California
Focusing on the semi-arid and highly disturbed landscape of San Clemente Island (SCI), California, we test the effectiveness of incorporating a hierarchical object-based image analysis (OBIA) approach with high-spatial resolution imagery and canopy height surfaces derived from light detection and ranging (lidar) data for mapping vegetation communities. The hierarchical approach entailed segmentation and classification of fine-scale patches of vegetation growth forms and bare ground, with shrub species identified, and a coarser-scale segmentation and classification to generate vegetation community maps. Such maps were generated for two areas of interest on SCI, with and without vegetation canopy height data as input, primarily to determine the effectiveness of such structural data on mapping accuracy. Overall accuracy is highest for the vegetation community map derived by integrating airborne visible and near-infrared imagery having very high spatial resolution with the lidar-derived canopy height data. The results demonstrate the utility of the hierarchical OBIA approach for mapping vegetation with very high spatial resolution imagery, and emphasizes the advantage of both multi-scale analysis and digital surface data for accurately mapping vegetation communities within highly disturbed landscapes.