Mapping the spatial distribution of woody vegetation is important for monitoring, man-aging, and studying woody encroachment in grasslands. However, in semi-arid regions, remotely sensed discrimination of tree species is difficult primarily due to the tree similarities, small and sparse canopy cover, but may also be due to overlapping woody canopies as well as seasonal leaf retention (deciduous versus evergreen) characteristics. Similar studies in different biomes have achieved low accuracies using coarse spatial resolution image data. The objective of this study was to investigate the use of multi-temporal, airborne hyperspectral imagery and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) derived data for tree species classification in a semi-arid desert region. This study produces highly accurate classifications by combining multi-temporal fine spatial resolution hyperspectral and LiDAR data (~1 m) through a reproducible scripting and machine learning approach that can be applied to larger areas and similar datasets. Combining multi-temporal vegetation indices and canopy height models led to an overall accuracy of 95.28% and kappa of 94.17%. Five woody species were discriminated resulting in producer accuracies ranging from 86.12% to 98.38%. The influence of fusing spectral and structural information in a random forest classifier for tree identification is evident. Additionally, a multi-temporal dataset slightly increases classification accuracies over a single data collection. Our results show a promising methodology for tree species classification in a semi-arid region using multi-temporal hyperspectral and LiDAR remote sensing data.
- species classification
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Earth and Planetary Sciences