The University of Arizona

Measuring Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.) Mass With the Use of Satellite Imagery

Patrick J. Starks, Brad C. Venuto, John A. Eckroat, Tom Lucas

Abstract


Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.) is an aggressively spreading native species in Oklahoma grasslands. It decreases rangeland forage production, and has been implicated in reducing stream flow and groundwater recharge. Industrial-scale plans to use redcedar as a biofuel source are being considered. Optimal placement of redcedar-based industries requires determination of redcedar availability. Such large-area inventories of redcedar mass can be practically addressed via aircraft or satellite remote sensing. Therefore, we conducted a study in central and western Oklahoma to develop and test a remote-sensing–based allometric equation relating redcedar canopy area to aboveground dry mass (AGM). We used automated methods to measure tree canopy area from georectified, pan-sharpened, multispectral QuickBird images having a spatial resolution of 0.45 m2 per pixel ground sample area. We also measured the canopy area and fresh and dry mass of these trees with the use of destructive sampling techniques. Regression analysis showed that satellite-derived measurements of canopy coverage explained about 85% of field-measured redcedar dry AGM in the study plots. The resulting allometric equation was applied to an independent data set, yielding dry AGM of 38.2 metric tons ? ha21, which was well within the field-measured range of 36–43 metric tons ? ha21. The allometric equation was then applied to Natural Resources Conservation Service measurements of redcedar canopy coverage for 17 counties in Oklahoma, to determine that the area of interest contains a median value of about 11.5 million metric tons of redcedar AGM. These results indicate that 0.45-m2 spatial resolution multispectral imagery can be a useful tool for rapid and reliable measurement of redcedar dry AGM.


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