Pantropical modelling of canopy functional traits using Sentinel-2 remote sensing data

Aguirre-Gutiérrez, J. and Rifai, S. and Shenkin, A. and Oliveras, I. and Bentley, L.P. and Svátek, M. and Girardin, C.A.J. and Both, S. and Riutta, T. and Berenguer, E. and Kissling, W.D. and Bauman, D. and Raab, N. and Moore, S. and Farfan-Rios, W. and Figueiredo, A.E.S. and Reis, S.M. and Ndong, J.E. and Ondo, F.E. and N'ssi Bengone, N. and Mihindou, V. and Moraes de Seixas, M.M. and Adu-Bredu, S. and Abernethy, K. and Asner, G.P. and Barlow, J. and Burslem, D.F.R.P. and Coomes, D.A. and Cernusak, L.A. and Dargie, G.C. and Enquist, B.J. and Ewers, R.M. and Ferreira, J. and Jeffery, K.J. and Joly, C.A. and Lewis, S.L. and Marimon-Junior, B.H. and Martin, R.E. and Morandi, P.S. and Phillips, O.L. and Quesada, C.A. and Salinas, N. and Schwantes Marimon, B. and Silman, M. and Teh, Y.A. and White, L.J.T. and Malhi, Y. (2021) Pantropical modelling of canopy functional traits using Sentinel-2 remote sensing data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 252. ISSN 0034-4257

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Abstract

Tropical forest ecosystems are undergoing rapid transformation as a result of changing environmental conditions and direct human impacts. However, we cannot adequately understand, monitor or simulate tropical ecosystem responses to environmental changes without capturing the high diversity of plant functional characteristics in the species-rich tropics. Failure to do so can oversimplify our understanding of ecosystems responses to environmental disturbances. Innovative methods and data products are needed to track changes in functional trait composition in tropical forest ecosystems through time and space. This study aimed to track key functional traits by coupling Sentinel-2 derived variables with a unique data set of precisely located in-situ measurements of canopy functional traits collected from 2434 individual trees across the tropics using a standardised methodology. The functional traits and vegetation censuses were collected from 47 field plots in the countries of Australia, Brazil, Peru, Gabon, Ghana, and Malaysia, which span the four tropical continents. The spatial positions of individual trees above 10 cm diameter at breast height (DBH) were mapped and their canopy size and shape recorded. Using geo-located tree canopy size and shape data, community-level trait values were estimated at the same spatial resolution as Sentinel-2 imagery (i.e. 10 m pixels). We then used the Geographic Random Forest (GRF) to model and predict functional traits across our plots. We demonstrate that key plant functional traits can be accurately predicted across the tropicsusing the high spatial and spectral resolution of Sentinel-2 imagery in conjunction with climatic and soil information. Image textural parameters were found to be key components of remote sensing information for predicting functional traits across tropical forests and woody savannas. Leaf thickness (R2 = 0.52) obtained the highest prediction accuracy among the morphological and structural traits and leaf carbon content (R2 = 0.70) and maximum rates of photosynthesis (R2 = 0.67) obtained the highest prediction accuracy for leaf chemistry and photosynthesis related traits, respectively. Overall, the highest prediction accuracy was obtained for leaf chemistry and photosynthetic traits in comparison to morphological and structural traits. Our approach offers new opportunities for mapping, monitoring and understanding biodiversity and ecosystem change in the most species-rich ecosystems on Earth.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Remote Sensing of Environment
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Remote Sensing of Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Remote Sensing of Environment, 252, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2020.112122
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1900/1907
Subjects:
ID Code:
149321
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
23 Nov 2020 16:20
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
21 Jun 2021 02:38