Spectral discrimination of vegetation types in a coastal wetland

K. S. Schmidt*, A. K. Skidmore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

413 Citations (Scopus)


Remote sensing is an important tool for mapping and monitoring vegetation. Advances in sensor technology continually improve the information content of imagery for airborne, as well as space-borne, systems. This paper investigates whether vegetation associations can be differentiated using hyperspectral reflectance in the visible to shortwave infrared spectral range, and how well species can be separated based on their spectra. For this purpose, the field reflectance spectra of 27 saltmarsh vegetation types of the Dutch Waddenzee wetland were analysed in three steps. Prior to analysis, the spectra were smoothed with an innovative wavelet approach. In the first stage of the analysis, the reflectance spectra of the vegetation types were tested for differences between type classes. It was found that the reflectance spectra of saltmarsh vegetation types are statistically significantly different for various spectral regions. Secondly, it was tested whether this statistical difference could be enhanced by using continuum removal as a normalisation technique. For vegetation spectra, continuum removal improves the statistical difference between vegetation types in the visible spectrum, but weakens the statistical difference of the spectra in the near-infrared and shortwave infrared part of the spectrum. Thirdly, after statistical differences were found, it was determined how distant in spectral space the vegetation type classes were from each other, using the Bhattacharyya (BH) and the Jeffries-Matusita (JM) distance measures. We selected six wavelengths for this, based on the statistical analysis of the first step. The potential of correct classification of the saltmarsh vegetation types using hyperspectral remote sensing is predicted by these distance measures. It is concluded that the reflectance of vegetation types is statistically different. With high quality radiometric calibration of hyperspectral imagery, it is anticipated that vegetation species may be identified from imagery using spectral libraries that were measured in the field during the time of image acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-108
Number of pages17
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • bhattacharyya distance
  • continuum removal
  • hyperspectral methods
  • Jeffries-Matusita distance
  • saltmarsh
  • statistical analysis

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Spectral discrimination of vegetation types in a coastal wetland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this