Skip to main content
ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Burns, Oregon » Range and Meadow Forage Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #379595

Research Project: Restoration and Conservation of Great Basin Ecosystems

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Title: Poor relationships between NEON AOP data and field-based measurements at a mesic grassland site

Author
item PAU, STEPHANIE - Florida State University
item NIPPERT, JESSE - Kansas State University
item GRIFFITH, DANIEL - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item BACHLE, SETON - Kansas State University
item HELLIKER, BRENT - University Of Pennsylvania
item O'Connor, Rory
item RILEY, WILLIAM - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
item STILL, CHRISTOPHER - Oregon State University
item ZARICOR, MARISSA - Kansas State University

Submitted to: Ecology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/3/2021
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: The National Observatory Ecological Network (NEON) Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) provides hyperspectral images and associated pre-packaged data products at numerous field sites across different biomes at 1 m spatial resolution. This publicly available data provides opportunities for high-resolution mapping of plant traits. However, the reliability of these data depends on establishing rigorous links with in-situ field measurements. We tested the accuracy of NEON’s product AOP derived data products by comparing them to field measurements from a mesic tallgrass prairie. We found that the correlations with AOP data products showed weak or no relationships with corresponding field measurements. For seven of the nine traits we examined less than 30% of variation was explained in each trait by partial least squares regression. However, woody plant canopy height had the highest variation explained, 84 percent. These results suggest that currently available AOP derived data products may be unreliable, at least at this mesic grassland site. This information is useful to grassland managers and scientists in attempting to use NEON-AOP derived data for conservation management decisions and environmental modelling purposes.

Technical Abstract: The National Observatory Ecological Network (NEON) Airborne Observation Platform (AOP) provides hyperspectral images and associated data products at numerous field sites at 1 m spatial resolution, allowing high-resolution plant trait mapping. However, the reliability of these data depends on establishing rigorous links with in-situ field measurements. We tested the accuracy of NEON’s readily available AOP derived data products – leaf area index, total biomass, canopy height, and canopy Nitrogen – as well as the full reflectance spectra (380-2500 nm), by comparing them to spatially extensive field measurements from a mesic tallgrass prairie. Correlations with AOP data products exhibited generally weak or no relationships with corresponding field measurements. For six of the eight traits examined, partial-least squares regression models using the full spectra explained less than 30% of variation in each trait, although the model for woody canopy height performed well (R2 = 0.84; RMSEP = 33%). Our results suggest that currently available AOP derived data products may be unreliable, at least at this grassland site, while relationships using the full reflectance spectra were more variable. Grassland sites may be especially challenging for airborne spectroscopy because of their high species diversity within a small area and heterogeneous mosaics of disturbance and resource availability.