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Title: Assessing Salt Marsh Vulnerability Using High-Resolution Hyperspectral Imagery
Change in the coastal zone is accelerating with external forcing by sea-level rise, nutrient loading, drought, and over-harvest, leading to significant stress on the foundation plant species of coastal salt marshes. The rapid evolution of marsh state induced by these drivers makes the ability to detect stressors prior to marsh loss important. However, field work in coastal salt marshes can be challenging due to limited access and their fragile nature. Thus, remote sensing approaches hold promise for rapid and accurate determination of marsh state across multiple spatial scales. In this study, we evaluated the use of remote sensing tools to detect three dominant stressors on Spartina alterniflora. We took advantage of a barrier island salt marsh chronosequence in Virginia, USA, where marshes of different ages and level of stressor exist side by side. We collected hyperspectral imagery of plants along with salinity, sediment redox potential, and foliar nitrogen content in the field. We also conducted a greenhouse study where we manipulated environmental conditions. We found that models developed for stressors based on plant spectral response correlated well with salinity and foliar nitrogen within the greenhouse and field data, but were not transferable from lab to field, likely due to the more » limited range of conditions explored within the greenhouse experiments and the coincidence of multiple stressors in the field. This study is an important step towards the development of a remote sensing tool for tracking of ecosystem development, marsh health, and future ecosystem services. « less
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Remote Sensing
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National Science Foundation
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