Hyperspectral analysis of leaf pigments and nutritional elements in tallgrass prairie vegetation

TitleHyperspectral analysis of leaf pigments and nutritional elements in tallgrass prairie vegetation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of PublicationIn Press
AuthorsLing, BH, Goodin, DG, Raynor, EJ, Joern, A
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Accession NumberKNZ001934
KeywordsHyperspectral analysis, Leaf pigments, Nutritional elements, remote sensing, tallgrass prairie

Understanding the spatial distribution of forage quality is important to address critical research questions in grassland science. Due to its efficiency and accuracy, there has been a widespread interest in mapping the canopy vegetation characteristics using remote sensing methods. In this study, foliar chlorophylls, carotenoids, and nutritional elements across multiple tallgrass prairie functional groups were quantified at the leaf level using hyperspectral analysis in the region of 470–800 nm, which was expected to be a precursor to further remote sensing of canopy vegetation quality. A method of spectral standardization was developed using a form of the normalized difference, which proved feasible to reduce the interference from background effects in the leaf reflectance measurements. Chlorophylls and carotenoids were retrieved through inverting the physical model PROSPECT 5. The foliar nutritional elements were modeled empirically. Partial least squares regression was used to build the linkages between the high-dimensional spectral predictor variables and the foliar biochemical contents. Results showed that the retrieval of leaf biochemistry through hyperspectral analysis can be accurate and robust across different tallgrass prairie functional groups. In addition, correlations were found between the leaf pigments and nutritional elements. Results provided insight into the use of pigment-related vegetation indices as the proxy of plant nutrition quality.