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    Multiple plant stresses can affect the health, esthetic condition, and timber harvest value of conifer forests. To monitor spatial and temporal dynamic forest stress conditions, timely, accurate, and cost-effective information is needed that could be provided by remote sensing. Recently, satellite imagery has become available via the RapidEye satellite constellation to provide spectral information in five broad bands, including the red-edge region (690-730 nm) of the electromagnetic spectrum. We tested the hypothesis that broadband, red-edge satellite information improves early detection of stress (as manifest by shifts in foliar chlorophyll a+ b) in a woodland ecosystem relative to other more commonly utilized band combinations of red, green, blue, and near infrared band reflectance spectra. We analyzed a temporally dense time series of 22 RapidEye scenes of a pinon-juniper woodland in central New Mexico acquired before and after stress was induced by girdling. We found that the Normalized Difference Red-Edge index (NDRE) allowed stress to be detected 13 days after girdling- between and 16 days earlier than broadband spectral indices such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Green NDVI traditionally used for satellite based forest health monitoring. We conclude that red-edge information has the potential to considerably improve forest stress monitoring from satellites and warrants further investigation in other forested ecosystems.

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    Eitel, Jan U.H.; Vierling, Lee A.; Litvak, Marcy E.; Long, Dan S.; Schulthess, Urs; Ager, Alan A.; Krofcheck, Dan J.; Stoscheck, Leo. 2011. Broadband, red-edge information from satellites improves early stress detection in a New Mexico conifer woodland. Remote Sensing of Environment. 115: 3640-3646.


    chlorophyll a/b ratio, forest health, pinon-juniper woodland, Pinus edulis, Juniperus monosperma, stress detection

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