Airborne color-infrared photography (CIR) (1:12,000 scale) was used to map localized occurrences of the widespread and aggressive Chinese tallow (Sapium sebiferum), an invasive species. Photography was collected during senescence when Chinese tallow's bright red leaves presented a high spectral contrast within the native bottomland hardwood and upland forests and marsh land-cover types. Mapped occurrences were conservative because not all senescing tallow leaves are bright red simultaneously. To simulate low spectral but high spatial resolution satellite/airborne image and digital video data, the CIR photography was transformed into raster images at spatial resolutions approximating 0.5 in and 1.0 m. The image data were then spectrally classified for the occurrence of bright red leaves associated with senescing Chinese tallow. Classification accuracies were greater than 95 percent at both spatial resolutions. There was no significant difference in either forest in the detection of tallow or inclusion of non-tallow trees associated with the two spatial resolutions. In marshes, slightly more tallow occurrences were mapped with the lower spatial resolution, but there were also more misclassifications of native land covers as tallow. Combining all land covers, there was no difference at detecting tallow occurrences (equal omission errors) between the two resolutions, but the higher spatial resolution was associated with less inclusion of non-tallow land covers as tallow (lower commission error). Overall, these results confirm that high spatial (???1 m) but low spectral resolution remote sensing data can be used for mapping Chinese tallow trees in dominant environments found in coastal and adjacent upland landscapes.
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Mapping Chinese tallow with color-infrared photography