Correlating Species and Spectral Diversity using Remote Sensing in Successional Fields in Virginia

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Itiya Aneece and Howard E Epstein, University of Virginia Main Campus, Environmental Sciences, Charlottesville, VA, United States
Conserving biodiversity can help preserve ecosystem properties and function. As the increasing prevalence of invasive plant species threatens biodiversity, advances in remote sensing technology can help monitor invasive species and their effects on ecosystems and plant communities. To assess whether we could study the effects of invasive species on biodiversity using remote sensing, we asked whether species diversity was positively correlated with spectral diversity, and whether correlations differed among spectral regions along the visible and near-infrared range. To answer these questions, we established community plots in secondary successional fields at the Blandy Experimental Farm in northern Virginia and collected vegetation surveys and ground-level hyperspectral data from 350 to 1025 nm wavelengths. Pearson correlation analysis revealed a positive correlation between spectral diversity and species diversity in the visible ranges of 350-499 nm (Pearson correlation=0.69, p=0.01), 500-589 nm (Pearson=0.64, p=0.03), and 590-674 nm (Pearson=0.70, p=0.01), slight positive correlation in the red edge range of 675-754 nm (Pearson=0.56, p=0.06), and no correlation in the near-infrared ranges of 755-924 nm (Pearson=-0.06, p=0.85) and 925-1025 nm (Pearson=0.30, p=0.34). These differences in correlations across spectral regions may be due to the elements that contribute to signatures in those regions and spectral data transformation methods. To investigate the role of pigment variability in these correlations, we estimated chlorophyll, carotenoid, and anthocyanin concentrations of five dominant species in the plots using vegetation indices. Although interspecific variability in pigment levels exceeded intraspecific variability, chlorophyll (F value=118) was more varied within species than carotenoids (F=322) and anthocyanins (F=126), perhaps contributing to the lack of correlation between species diversity and spectral diversity in the red edge region. Interspecific differences in pigment levels, however, make it possible to differentiate species remotely.