Landsat 8 and MODIS: A Powerful Duo for Invasion Risk Assessment in Alaska

Project Team: Alaska Ecological Forecasting Team
Team Location: U.S. Geological Survey, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

Ensemble risk assessment map of invasive white sweet-clover in Alaska (local scale), produced with Landsat 8 indices and topographic data. Highest risk areas in red. Image Credit: Alaska Ecological Forecasting Team.

Ensemble risk assessment map of invasive white sweet-clover in Alaska (local scale), produced with Landsat 8 indices and topographic data. Highest risk areas in red. Image Credit: Alaska Ecological Forecasting Team.

Authors:
Matthew Luizza (Colorado State University)
Amanda West (Colorado State University)
Linnet Jose (Colorado State University)

Mentors/Advisors:
Dr. Paul Evangelista (Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University)
Dr. Melinda Laituri (Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Colorado State University)
Dr. Catherine Jarnevich (U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center)

Abstract:
Invasive species are one of the most pressing environmental and economic threats of the 21st century. Alaska is one of the fastest-warming places on the planet, and shifts in seasonality and temperature brought on by climate change are known to affect the spread of invasive species across geographic scales. This holds major implications for regional biosecurity, as such disturbances are known to negatively affect
biodiversity, local livelihoods and overall ecosystem resilience. Time- and cost-effective approaches for assessing invasion risk are therefore a high priority for land managers and local communities. This study used Landsat 8 Operational Land Manager (OLI) and Terra Moderate Resolution Imaging Radio Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery, in concert with ancillary geospatial and vegetation survey data and correlative species distribution modeling, to produce risk assessment maps for invasive white sweet-clover (Melilotus albus) across the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge and the state of Alaska. Maps were produced from an ensemble of five species distribution models, and used to quantify the total area threatened by invasive white sweet-clover. This reveals the growing threat of invasive plants to the refuge and the state. These results suggest ensemble risk assessments can act as a powerful decision-support tool for land managers and local communities when developing invasive plant prevention and mitigation plans at different scales.

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