Feasibility of invasive grass detection in a desertscrub community using hyperspectral field measurements and landsat TM imagery

Aaryn D. Olsson, Willem J.D. van Leeuwen, Stuart E. Marsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Invasive species' phenologies often contrast with those of native species, representing opportunities for detection of invasive species with multi-temporal remote sensing. Detection is especially critical for ecosystem-transforming species that facilitate changes in disturbance regimes. The African C 4 grass, Pennisetum ciliare, is transforming ecosystems on three continents and a number of neotropical islands by introducing a grass-fire cycle. However, previous attempts at discriminating P. ciliare in North America using multi-spectral imagery have been unsuccessful. In this paper, we integrate field measurements of hyperspectral plant species signatures and canopy cover with multi-temporal spectral analysis to identify opportunities for detection using moderate-resolution multi-spectral imagery. By applying these results to Landsat TM imagery, we show that multi-spectral discrimination of P. ciliare in heterogeneous mixed desert scrub is feasible, but only at high abundance levels that may have limited value to land managers seeking to control invasion. Much higher discriminability is possible with hyperspectral shortwave infrared imagery because of differences in non-photosynthetic vegetation in uninvaded and invaded landscapes during dormant seasons but these spectra are unavailable in multispectral sensors. Therefore, we recommend hyperspectral imagery for distinguishing invasive grass-dominated landscapes from uninvaded desert scrub.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2283-2304
Number of pages22
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2011


  • Buffelgrass
  • Cellulose absorption
  • Cenchrus ciliaris
  • Hyperspectral
  • NDVI
  • Pennisetum ciliare
  • Phenology
  • Spectral mixture analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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