Mapping invasive Phragmites australis in the coastal Great Lakes with ALOS PALSAR Satellite Imagery for Decision Support

Document Type

Conference Paper/Presentation

Publication Date



Phragmites australis (common reed) has an invasive variety not native to North America that forms dense stands which cause negative impacts on coastal Great Lakes wetlands including habitat degradation and reduced biological diversity. Early treatment is key to controlling Phragmites, therefore a map of the current distribution is needed. ALOS PALSAR imagery was used to produce the first basin-wide distribution map showing the extent of large, dense invasive Phragmites-dominated habitats in wetlands and other coastal ecosystems along the U.S. shore of the Great Lakes. PALSAR is a satellite imaging radar sensor that is sensitive to differences in plant biomass and inundation patterns, allowing for the detection and delineation of tall (up to 5 m), high-density, high-biomass invasive Phragmites stands. Classification was based on multi-season ALOS PALSAR L-band data. Seasonal datasets improved discrimination of Phragmites by taking advantage of phenological changes in vegetation and inundation patterns. Extensive field collections of training and randomly selected validation data were conducted in 2010-11 to aid in mapping and for accuracy assessments. Overall map accuracy was 87%, with 86% producer's accuracy for invasive Phragmites.

Publisher's Statement

© 2012 The authors.

Publication Title

IAGLR 55th Annual Conference on Great Lakes Research