Coastal salt marshes are valuable and critical components of tidal landscapes, currently threatened by increasing rates of sea level rise, wave-induced lateral erosion, decreasing sediment supply, and human pressure. Halophytic vegetation plays an important role in salt-marsh erosional and depositional patterns and marsh survival. Mapping salt-marsh halophytic vegetation species and their fractional abundance within plant associations can provide important information on marsh vulnerability and coastal management. Remote sensing has often provided valuable methods for salt-marsh vegetation mapping; however, it has seldom been used to assess the fractional abundance of halophytes. In this study, we developed and tested a novel approach to estimate fractional abundance of halophytic species and bare soil that is based on Random Forest (RF) soft classification. This approach can fully use the information contained in the frequency of decision tree “votes” to estimate fractional abundance of each species. Such a method was applied to WorldView-2 (WV-2) data acquired for the Venice lagoon (Italy), where marshes are characterized by a high diversity of vegetation species. The proposed method was successfully tested against field observations derived from ancillary field surveys. Our results show that the new approach allows one to obtain high accuracy (6.7% < root-mean-square error (RMSE) < 18.7% and 0.65 < R2 < 0.96) in estimating the sub-pixel fractional abundance of marsh-vegetation species. Comparing results obtained with the new RF soft-classification approach with those obtained using the traditional RF regression method for fractional abundance estimation, we find a superior performance of the novel RF soft-classification approach with respect to the existing RF regression methods. The distribution of the dominant species obtained from the RF soft classification was compared to the one obtained from an RF hard classification, showing that numerous mixed areas are wrongly labeled as populated by specific species by the hard classifier. As for the effectiveness of using WV-2 for salt-marsh vegetation mapping, feature importance analyses suggest that Yellow (584–632 nm), NIR 1 (near-infrared 1, 765–901 nm) and NIR 2 (near-infrared 2, 856–1043 nm) bands are critical in RF soft classification. Our results bear important consequences for mapping and monitoring vegetation-species fractional abundance within plant associations and their dynamics, which are key aspects in biogeomorphic analyses of salt-marsh landscapes.

Assessing the fractional abundance of highly mixed salt-marsh vegetation using random forest soft classification / Yang Z.; D'alpaos A.; Marani M.; Silvestri S.. - In: REMOTE SENSING. - ISSN 2072-4292. - ELETTRONICO. - 12:19(2020), pp. 3224.1-3224.25. [10.3390/rs12193224]

Assessing the fractional abundance of highly mixed salt-marsh vegetation using random forest soft classification

Silvestri S.
Conceptualization
2020

Abstract

Coastal salt marshes are valuable and critical components of tidal landscapes, currently threatened by increasing rates of sea level rise, wave-induced lateral erosion, decreasing sediment supply, and human pressure. Halophytic vegetation plays an important role in salt-marsh erosional and depositional patterns and marsh survival. Mapping salt-marsh halophytic vegetation species and their fractional abundance within plant associations can provide important information on marsh vulnerability and coastal management. Remote sensing has often provided valuable methods for salt-marsh vegetation mapping; however, it has seldom been used to assess the fractional abundance of halophytes. In this study, we developed and tested a novel approach to estimate fractional abundance of halophytic species and bare soil that is based on Random Forest (RF) soft classification. This approach can fully use the information contained in the frequency of decision tree “votes” to estimate fractional abundance of each species. Such a method was applied to WorldView-2 (WV-2) data acquired for the Venice lagoon (Italy), where marshes are characterized by a high diversity of vegetation species. The proposed method was successfully tested against field observations derived from ancillary field surveys. Our results show that the new approach allows one to obtain high accuracy (6.7% < root-mean-square error (RMSE) < 18.7% and 0.65 < R2 < 0.96) in estimating the sub-pixel fractional abundance of marsh-vegetation species. Comparing results obtained with the new RF soft-classification approach with those obtained using the traditional RF regression method for fractional abundance estimation, we find a superior performance of the novel RF soft-classification approach with respect to the existing RF regression methods. The distribution of the dominant species obtained from the RF soft classification was compared to the one obtained from an RF hard classification, showing that numerous mixed areas are wrongly labeled as populated by specific species by the hard classifier. As for the effectiveness of using WV-2 for salt-marsh vegetation mapping, feature importance analyses suggest that Yellow (584–632 nm), NIR 1 (near-infrared 1, 765–901 nm) and NIR 2 (near-infrared 2, 856–1043 nm) bands are critical in RF soft classification. Our results bear important consequences for mapping and monitoring vegetation-species fractional abundance within plant associations and their dynamics, which are key aspects in biogeomorphic analyses of salt-marsh landscapes.
2020
Assessing the fractional abundance of highly mixed salt-marsh vegetation using random forest soft classification / Yang Z.; D'alpaos A.; Marani M.; Silvestri S.. - In: REMOTE SENSING. - ISSN 2072-4292. - ELETTRONICO. - 12:19(2020), pp. 3224.1-3224.25. [10.3390/rs12193224]
Yang Z.; D'alpaos A.; Marani M.; Silvestri S.
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Yang_et_al_2020.pdf

accesso aperto

Tipo: Versione (PDF) editoriale
Licenza: Licenza per accesso libero gratuito
Dimensione 4.38 MB
Formato Adobe PDF
4.38 MB Adobe PDF Visualizza/Apri

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/777969
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus 6
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 4
social impact