Detecting and mapping invasive phragmites australis in the coastal Great Lakes with ALOS PALSAR imagery

Document Type

Conference Paper/Presentation

Publication Date



Phragmites australis is a non-native invasive plant that can form dense monocultures, causing negative impacts on coastal Great Lakes wetlands by reducing ecosystem services including habitat and therefore, biological diversity. Through Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding, ALOS PALSAR imagery is being used to map the invasive plant as it occurs in monoculture stands of the U.S. coastal Great Lakes wetlands. These invasive Phragmites maps are being used as part of a USGS Great Lakes Science Center (GLSC) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) program to identify major environmental drivers of invasive Phragmites distribution, to assess areas vulnerable to new invasion, and to provide this information to regional stakeholders through a decision support tool. The invasive Phragmites map is the first U.S. basin-wide map to be produced on the distribution of this species. Methods include maximum likelihood classification of multi-season ALOS PALSAR HH and HV polarization data. PALSAR is an L-band (23 cm wavelength) imaging radar sensor which is sensitive to differences in plant biomass and inundation patterns, allowing for the extraction of these tall (up to 15 m), high-density, high-biomass Phragmites wetland stands. To improve discrimination of Phragmites australis, the three date (spring, summer, fall) dataset is being used, which takes advantage of phenological changes in vegetation and inundation patterns over the seasons. Field collections of training and randomly selected validation data were conducted in spring summer and fall of 2010-11 to aid in the mapping and for accuracy assessment. The minimum mapping unit is 1/2 acre and thus all field sites were sampled at 1/2 acre units. All map products and field validation data will be complete by December 2011. Maps are being completed on a Lake basin basis. The first final map product was delivered for Lake Erie coastal wetlands to 10 km inland, with an overall map accuracy of 86%. Field data, image mosaics and mapping results are being shared through a project web page.

Publisher's Statement

© 2011 American Geophysical Union.

Publication Title

AGU Fall Meeting 2011