Discriminating Tsuga canadensis hemlock forest defoliation using remotely sensed change detection

D. D. Royle, R. G. Lathrop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) is declining in health and vigor in eastern North America due to infestation by an introduced insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae). Adelgid feeding activity results in the defoliation of hemlock forest canopy over several years. We investigated the application of Landsat satellite imagery and change-detection techniques to monitor the health of hemlock forest stands in northern New Jersey. We described methods used to correct effects due to atmospheric conditions and monitor the health status of hemlock stands over time. As hemlocks defoliate, changes occur in the spectral reflectance of the canopy in near infrared and red wavelengths - changes captured in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. By relating the difference in this index over time to hemlock defoliation on the ground, four classes of hemlock forest health were predicted across spatially heterogeneous landscapes with 82% accuracy. Using a time series of images, we are investigating temporal and spatial patterns in hemlock defoliation across the study area over the past decade. Based on the success of this methodology, we are now expanding our study to monitor hemlock health across the entire Mid-Atlantic region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-221
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nematology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


  • Adelges tsugae
  • Change detection
  • Defoliation
  • Discriminant analysis
  • Discriminating
  • Eastern hemlock
  • Forest
  • Hemlock woolly adelgid
  • Landsat TM
  • Remote sensing
  • Tsuga canadensis


Dive into the research topics of 'Discriminating Tsuga canadensis hemlock forest defoliation using remotely sensed change detection'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this