Structural and functional analyses of ecosystems benefit when high accuracy vegetation coverages can be derived over large areas. In this study, we utilize IKONOS, Landsat 7 ETM+, and airborne scanning light detection and ranging (lidar) to quantify coniferous forest and understory grass coverages in a ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) dominated ecosystem in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Linear spectral mixture analyses of IKONOS and ETM+ data were used to isolate spectral endmembers (bare soil, understory grass, and tree/shade) and calculate their subpixel fractional coverages. We then compared these endmember cover estimates to similar cover estimates derived from lidar data and field measures. The IKONOS-derived tree/shade fraction was significantly correlated with the field-measured canopy effective leaf area index (LAIe) (r2=0.55, p<0.001) and with the lidar-derived estimate of tree occurrence (r2=0.79, p<0.001). The enhanced vegetation index (EVI) calculated from IKONOS imagery showed a negative correlation with the field measured tree canopy effective LAI and lidar tree cover response (r 2=0.30, r=-0.55 and r2=0.41, r=-0.64, respectively; p<0.001) and further analyses indicate a strong linear relationship between EVI and the IKONOS-derived grass fraction (r2=0.99, p<0.001). We also found that using EVI resulted in better agreement with the subpixel vegetation fractions in this ecosystem than using normalized difference of vegetation index (NDVI). Coarsening the IKONOS data to 30 m resolution imagery revealed a stronger relationship with lidar tree measures (r2=0.77, p<0.001) than at 4 m resolution (r2=0.58, p<0.001). Unmixed tree/shade fractions derived from 30 m resolution ETM+ imagery also showed a significant correlation with the lidar data (r2=0.66, p<0.001). These results demonstrate the power of using high resolution lidar data to validate spectral unmixing results of satellite imagery, and indicate that IKONOS data and Landsat 7 ETM+ data both can serve to make the important distinction between tree/shade coverage and exposed understory grass coverage during peak summertime greenness in a ponderosa pine forest ecosystem. ?? 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Using lidar and effective LAI data to evaluate IKONOS and Landsat 7 ETM+ vegetation cover estimates in a ponderosa pine forest