Seasonal, topographic and burn frequency effects on biophysical/spectral reflectance relationships in tallgrass prairie
Application of remote sensing relies on understanding how the physical properties of surfaces (especially vegetated surfaces) control spectral reflectance. Empirical investigation of links between canopy properties/processes and spectral response have generally consisted of univariate modelling of one spectral response variable in terms of one canopy property, or less frequently, in terms of two or more canopy variables. While this approach has been fruitful, it cannot account for multivariate interactions of spectral and surface properties in determining canopy response across the spectrum. In this study, two closely related multivariate analysis techniques, canonical correlation and redundancy analysis, are used to investigate the relationship between a series of tallgrass prairie canopy biophysical properties and spectral reflectance measured in situ using a portable radiometer. To capture a variety of different conditions within the tallgrass canopy, data were collected at two times during the 2002 growing season (28 May and 18 August), from two different slope/aspect situations, located on one frequently burned and one infrequently burned watershed. Results suggest that canopy structure (canopy height, greenness fraction) is the most consistent influence on spectral reflectance during both data collection periods. Canopy optical properties also emerge as an important control in August. Neither soil moisture nor plant physiology/biochemistry systematically influenced spectral reflectance. The relative importance of the various canopy variables shows some dependence on burn frequency and topographic setting.