Woody species encroachment on grassland ecosystems is occurring worldwide with both negative and positive consequences for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services. Remote sensing and image analysis represent useful tools for the monitoring of this process. In this paper, we aimed at evaluating quantitatively the potential of using high-resolution UAV imagery to monitor the encroachment process during its early development and at comparing the performance of manual and semi-automatic classification methods. The RGB images of an abandoned subalpine grassland on the Western Italian Alps were acquired by drone and then classified through manual photo-interpretation, with both pixel- and object-based semi-automatic models, using machine-learning algorithms. The classification techniques were applied at different resolution levels and tested for their accuracy against reference data including measurements of tree dimensions collected in the field. Results showed that the most accurate method was the photo-interpretation (≈99%), followed by the pixel-based approach (≈86%) that was faster than the manual technique and more accurate than the object-based one (≈78%). The dimensional threshold for juvenile tree detection was lower for the photo-interpretation but comparable to the pixel-based one. Therefore, for the encroachment mapping at its early stages, the pixel-based approach proved to be a promising and pragmatic choice

Using UAV Imagery to Detect and Map Woody Species Encroachment in a Subalpine Grassland: Advantages and Limits

Ludovica Oddi
;
Lorenzo Ascari;Gianluca Filippa;Davide Serafino;
2021

Abstract

Woody species encroachment on grassland ecosystems is occurring worldwide with both negative and positive consequences for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services. Remote sensing and image analysis represent useful tools for the monitoring of this process. In this paper, we aimed at evaluating quantitatively the potential of using high-resolution UAV imagery to monitor the encroachment process during its early development and at comparing the performance of manual and semi-automatic classification methods. The RGB images of an abandoned subalpine grassland on the Western Italian Alps were acquired by drone and then classified through manual photo-interpretation, with both pixel- and object-based semi-automatic models, using machine-learning algorithms. The classification techniques were applied at different resolution levels and tested for their accuracy against reference data including measurements of tree dimensions collected in the field. Results showed that the most accurate method was the photo-interpretation (≈99%), followed by the pixel-based approach (≈86%) that was faster than the manual technique and more accurate than the object-based one (≈78%). The dimensional threshold for juvenile tree detection was lower for the photo-interpretation but comparable to the pixel-based one. Therefore, for the encroachment mapping at its early stages, the pixel-based approach proved to be a promising and pragmatic choice
13
7
1239
1239
https://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/13/7/1239
Alps; drone; image analysis; land cover change; larch; OBIA; photo-interpretation; pixel-based classification
Ludovica Oddi, Edoardo Cremonese, Lorenzo Ascari, Gianluca Filippa, Marta Galvagno, Davide Serafino, Umberto Morra di Cella
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2318/1802154
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