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Estimating and mapping grass phosphorus concentration in an African savanna using hyperspectral image data

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We tested the utility of imaging spectroscopy and neural networks to map phosphorus concentration in savanna grass using airborne HyMAP image data. We also sought to ascertain the key wavelengths for phosphorus prediction using hyperspectral remote sensing. The remote sensing of foliar phosphorus has received very little attention as compared to nitrogen, yet it plays an equally important role in explaining the distribution and feeding patterns of herbivores. Band depths from two continuum-removed absorption features as well as the red edge position (REP) were input into a backpropagation neural network. Following a series of experiments to ascertain the optimum wavelengths, the best trained neural network was used to predict and ultimately to map grass phosphorus concentration in the Kruger National Park. The results indicate that the best trained neural network could predict phosphorus distribution with a coefficient of determination of 0.63 and a root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.07 (28% of the mean observed phosphorus concentration) on an independent test data set. Our results also show that the absorption feature located in the shortwave infrared (R 2015-2199) contains more information on phosphorus distribution, a region that has hardly been explored before in most spectroscopic experiments for phosphorus as compared to the visible bands. Overall, the study demonstrates the potential of imaging spectroscopy in mapping grass phosphorus concentration in savanna rangelands.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Kwa-Zulu-Natal, School of Environmental Sciences, Department of Geography, Scottsville 3209, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa 2: Department of Ecosystem Management, School of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resources Management, University of New England, Armidale NSW 2351, Australia

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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