Linking physiological responses, chlorophyll fluorescence and hyperspectral imagery to detect salinity stress using the physiological reflectance index in the coastal shrub, Myrica cerifera

Department of Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23284, USA
Remote Sensing of Environment (Impact Factor: 6.39). 06/2008; 112(10):3865-3875. DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2008.06.004


Measurements of physiology, chlorophyll fluorescence and hyperspectral reflectance were used to detect salinity stress in the evergreen coastal shrub, Myrica cerifera on Hog Island, Virginia. Two experimental sites were used in our study, the oceanside of a M. cerifera thicket, which is exposed to sea spray, and the protected, leeside of the thicket. Using the physiological reflectance index (PRI), we were able to detect stress at both the canopy and landscape level. Monthly variations in stomatal conductance, photosynthesis, and relative water content indicated a strong summer drought response that was not apparent in chlorophyll fluorescence or in the water band index (WBI) derived from canopy and airborne reflectance measurements. In contrast, there were significant differences in both physiological measurements and tissue chlorides between the two sites used in the study, indicating salinity stress. This was reflected in measurements of PRI. There was a positive relationship between PRI measured at the canopy-level and light-adapted fluorescence (ΔF/F′m; r2 = 0.69). PRI was significantly lower on the oceanside of the Myrica cerifera thicket. PRI was not significantly related to NDVI (r2 = 0.01) at the canopy-level and only weakly related (r2 = 0.04) at the landscape-level, suggesting that the indices are independent. The chlorophyll index (CI) did not show any significant changes between the two sites. Frequency histograms of pixels sampled from airborne hyperspectral imagery revealed that the distribution of PRI was shifted to the right on the backside of the thicket relative to the oceanside and there was a significant difference between sites. These results suggest that PRI may be used for early identification of salt-stress and to identify areas across the landscape where community structure may change due to sea-level rise.

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