Past laboratory and field studies have quantified phenolic substances in vegetative matter from reflectance measurements for understanding plant response to herbivores and insect predation. Past remote sensing studies on phenolics have evaluated crop quality and vegetation patterns caused by bedrock geology and associated variations in soil geochemistry. We examined spectra of pure phenolic compounds, common plant biochemical constituents, dry leaves, fresh leaves, and plant canopies for direct evidence of absorption features attributable to plant phenolics. Using spectral feature analysis with continuum removal, we observed that a narrow feature at 1.66 μm is persistent in spectra of manzanita, sumac, red maple, sugar maple, tea, and other species. This feature was consistent with absorption caused by aromatic C H bonds in the chemical structure of phenolic compounds and non-hydroxylated aromatics. Because of overlapping absorption by water, the feature was weaker in fresh leaf and canopy spectra compared to dry leaf measurements. Simple linear regressions of feature depth and feature area with polyphenol concentration in tea resulted in high correlations and low errors (% phenol by dry weight) at the dry leaf(r2 = 0.95, RMSE = 1.0%, n = 56), fresh leaf(r2 = 0.79, RMSE = 2.1%, n = 56), and canopy (r2 = 0.78, RMSE = 1.0%, n = 13) levels of measurement. Spectra of leaves, needles, and canopies of big sagebrush and evergreens exhibited a weak absorption feature centered near 1.63 μm, short ward of the phenolic compounds, possibly consistent with terpenes. This study demonstrates that subtle variation in vegetation spectra in the shortwave infrared can directly indicate biochemical constituents and be used to quantify them. Phenolics are of lesser abundance compared to the major plant constituents but, nonetheless, have important plant functions and ecological significance. Additional research is needed to advance our understanding of the spectral influences of plant phenolics and terpenes relative to dominant leaf biochemistry (water, chlorophyll, protein/nitrogen, cellulose, and lignin).
|Number of pages||29|
|Journal||International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation|
|Publication status||Published - Dec 2015|
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- Canopy chemistry
- Remote sensing
- Continuum removal
- Spectral feature analysis