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Ontology-driven Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (O-GEOBIA) contributes to the identification of meaningful objects. In fusing data from multiple sensors, the number of feature variables is increased and object identification becomes a challenging task. We propose a methodological contribution that extends feature variable characterisation. This method is illustrated with a case study in forest-type mapping in Tasmania, Australia. Satellite images, airborne LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and expert photo-interpretation data are fused for feature extraction and classification. Two machine learning algorithms, Random Forest and Boruta, are used to identify important and relevant feature variables. A variogram is used to describe textural and spatial features. Different variogram features are used as input for rule-based classifications. The rule-based classifications employ (i) spectral features, (ii) vegetation indices, (iii) LiDAR, and (iv) variogram features, and resulted in overall classification accuracies of 77.06%, 78.90%, 73.39% and 77.06% respectively. Following data fusion, the use of combined feature variables resulted in a higher classification accuracy (81.65%). Using relevant features extracted from the Boruta algorithm, the classification accuracy is further improved (82.57%). The results demonstrate that the use of relevant variogram features together with spectral and LiDAR features resulted in improved classification accuracy.
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remote sensing
Leveraging Machine Learning to Extend
Ontology-Driven Geographic Object-Based Image
Analysis (O-GEOBIA): A Case Study in
Forest-Type Mapping
Sachit Rajbhandari 1,*ID , Jagannath Aryal 1ID , Jon Osborn 1ID , Arko Lucieer 1ID and
Robert Musk 2
1Discipline of Geography and Spatial Sciences, School of Technology, Environments and Design, College of
Sciences and Engineering, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 76, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia; (J.A.); (J.O.); (A.L.)
2Timberlands Pacific, Level 1, Cimitiere House, 113-115 Cimitiere Street, Launceston,
Tasmania 7250, Australia;
*Correspondence:; Tel.: +61-415-692-370
Received: 11 January 2019; Accepted: 25 February 2019; Published: 1 March 2019
Ontology-driven Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (O-GEOBIA) contributes to the
identification of meaningful objects. In fusing data from multiple sensors, the number of feature
variables is increased and object identification becomes a challenging task. We propose a methodological
contribution that extends feature variable characterisation. This method is illustrated with a case study
in forest-type mapping in Tasmania, Australia. Satellite images, airborne LiDAR (Light Detection
and Ranging) and expert photo-interpretation data are fused for feature extraction and classification.
Two machine learning algorithms, Random Forest and Boruta, are used to identify important and
relevant feature variables. A variogram is used to describe textural and spatial features. Different
variogram features are used as input for rule-based classifications. The rule-based classifications employ
(i) spectral features, (ii) vegetation indices, (iii) LiDAR, and (iv) variogram features, and resulted in
overall classification accuracies of 77.06%, 78.90%, 73.39% and 77.06% respectively. Following data
fusion, the use of combined feature variables resulted in a higher classification accuracy (81.65%). Using
relevant features extracted from the Boruta algorithm, the classification accuracy is further improved
(82.57%). The results demonstrate that the use of relevant variogram features together with spectral
and LiDAR features resulted in improved classification accuracy.
GEOBIA; rule-based classification; ontology; machine learning; random forests; rules
extraction; variogram; semantic similarities; semantic variogram
1. Introduction
Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA) is a widely used and still developing
new approach to image segmentation and classification [
]. The goal of GEOBIA is to extract
segments, derive meaningful objects, and in turn thematic classes from remotely sensed data. Unlike
more traditional approaches to image segmentation and classification, GEOBIA includes contextual
information together with a variety of image object properties that include size, shape, texture,
and spectral (colour) information. The data used in the segmentation may be internal, extracted
from the image and operate by grouping similar pixels into objects, or external to the image and
operate by including thematic layers, for example, known land use or other meaningful object
boundaries [
]. The aim of any GEOBIA application is to translate expert knowledge associated
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503; doi:10.3390/rs11050503
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 2 of 25
with real-world features into the GEOBIA process [
] in a manner that is formal, objective and
transferable. One approach to this challenge is to employ an ontology to formally capture and represent
the expert knowledge [
], referred to here as Ontology-driven GEOBIA (O-GEOBIA). Ontology
helps to reduce semantic gap between high-level knowledge and low-level information. Ontology
integrates qualitative (e.g., Forest canopy is dense) and subjective (description referred by subject
i.e., experts) high-level knowledge with the quantitative (e.g., spectral band value represented by
digital number) and objective (information refers to the object i.e., segmented image object) low-level
information [
]. A consequential challenge is to manage decisions regarding the extent to which a
prescribed ontology—both the relationships defined by that ontology and any quantitative attributes
associated with those relationships—can be treated as transferable or generalisable across different
study sites or data sources [
]. In turn, the question that arises is how best to generate the classification
rules that cannot be achieved only from the domain knowledge but may be discoverable in the data on
a site-specific basis.
An opportunity, but also a further challenge, arises from advances in remote sensing technology
that are extending the availability of different types of remotely sensed data, such as multispectral and
hyperspectral imagery, radar and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging). Thematic geo-information
retrieval from these stand-alone datasets would benefit with their fusion. Multi-sensor data fusion
techniques are therefore of growing importance [
]. In GEOBIA, particularly in forest classification,
recent research has shown that 3D LiDAR data can augment imagery data for improved and more
robust classification [
] and data fusion can be used to increase the robustness of forest-type
mapping [13].
Our research is exploring methodological approaches that integrate ontology into the GEOBIA
workflow, with the ontology purposely developed to capture rules that are generalisable and so
can be expected to be transferable across different study sites, with these rules supplemented by
non-transferable rules developed on a case-by-case basis using data fusion and machine learning.
An earlier paper [
] benchmarked how ontological rules, both generalised rules extracted from domain
knowledge and localised rules can be incorporated into GEOBIA.
This paper extends that work by developing a methodology for extracting localised rules using
machine learning techniques. The methodology develops classification rules using fused multi-sensor
data, features extracted from image-based spectral indices and point-cloud derivatives, together with
semivariogram features derived within the GEOBIA environment. The methodology employs Boruta
algorithm in selecting all-relevant features and includes characterisation of thematic classes using
semantic similarities.
Research questions addressed in this paper are:
Why is multi-sensor data fusion necessary in O-GEOBIA?
How can spatial features be incorporated for accurate classification in O-GEOBIA?
How can relevant features be extracted to construct rules required when identifying classes for
How can semantic similarity be used to characterise thematic classes in an ontological
The novelty of this work lies in its extension of an ontological geographic object-based image
analysis framework with respect to data fusion. We aimed to identify the challenges and their remedies
in the context of O-GEOBIA. The contributions of this paper are:
It presents a methodology for improving classification accuracy using feature selection from fused
multi-sensor data.
It evaluates the employment of semivariogram features alongside image-based spectral indices
and point-cloud based airborne LiDAR derivatives.
It presents a methodology for the selection of semantic similarities for semantic characterisation.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 3 of 25
The application of our methodology is illustrated using a suitably complex case study: the
classification of forest types. The case study demonstrates how existing domain knowledge can be
represented by an ontology that is generalisable and how machine learning can be used to supplement
the classification with local, case-specific and non-transferable rules. The case study is not intended
to establish the robustness or efficacy of our approach, but to illustrate how the method is applied
in practice.
The remainder of the paper is organised as follows. Section 2provides necessary theoretical
background. Section 3outlines the methodology for ontology-based image classification using machine
learning algorithms and experimental design. Section 4presents the case study of Tasmanian forest-type
mapping. Section 5elaborates the implementation of the proposed methodology for the forest-type
case study. In Section 6, the results of the case study is presented and discussed in Section 7. In the
concluding Section 8, the contribution of the current work is presented.
2. Background
Ontology has been used in the field of image interpretation [
]. The application of
ontology in GIScience for extraction of geo-information has been demonstrated by
framework was introduced in 2000 and has proven to be a powerful tool for information extraction
from imagery
. There is now an opportunity to incorporate ontological concepts into the
GEOBIA framework to improve extraction of meaningful GIS-ready information for further analysis
and interpretation [4].
In O-GEOBIA, remote-sensing techniques are used to interpret physical properties (e.g., an NDVI
may be used to discriminate vegetated areas from urban) while domain knowledge is used to provide
contextual information (e.g., that vegetated areas in an urban setting may be municipal parks) [
Low-level information extracted from sensor data in combination with high-level information from
domain knowledge provides a basis for creating rule sets for a rule-based classifier.
An ontological framework that can formalise such knowledge for analysis of remote sensing
images has been proposed in [
]. An ontology is a formal description of knowledge as a set of concepts
and their relationships within a domain. The domain concepts in an ontology represent thematic
classes. Gruber [
] states that an ontology is a “specification of a shared conceptualisation”. Ontology
is a shared understanding of a domain that formally defines components such as individuals (instances
of objects), classes, attributes and relations as well as restrictions, rules and axioms.
Data fusion aims to integrate multi-sensor data to extract information that cannot be derived
from the data from any single sensor. In remote sensing, data fusion can take place at three different
processing levels: pixel level, feature level and decision level [
]. Pixel level data fusion is a low
processing level merging of raw data from multiple sources into common resolution data. An example
of pixel level image fusion is pan-sharpening, which aims to improve spatial and spectral resolution
along with structural and textural details [
]. Feature level fusion is a high-level fusion that
involves the extraction of objects identified in different data sources using segmentation techniques.
The alignment of similar objects from multiple sources is performed and various spectral, textural
and spatial features are extracted and fused together for statistical or neural network assessment [
Decision level fusion merges the extracted information such as selection of a relevant feature from
extracted features. Benefits of data fusion embrace the issues of correlated, spurious, or disparate
data. Highly correlated data can lead to positively biased results and artificially high confidence levels;
spurious data leads to outliers; disparate data leads to conflicting information [7].
In order to describe complex thematic classes and to achieve better classification accuracy, the
feature dimension can be further increased with the addition of derivatives computed from existing
features. For example, several vegetation indices may be calculated using combinations of different
spectral bands. Spectral vegetation indices are commonly used to characterise forests and monitor
forest resources [
]. Further, there is a need to understand the spatial dependency of feature variables
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 4 of 25
for e.g., spatial autocorrelation. In understanding spatial patterns, semivariograms may be used to
measure spatial dependencies of feature variables [32].
Increased dimensionality provides new input variables for classification rules, but it also can
make it difficult to identify feature variables that play an important role in classifying a particular class.
Increasing the feature dimensions adds complexity to segmentation and classification. To tackle the
complexity associated with high dimensionality, previous research has proposed the use of filtering
and wrapping approaches for feature selection and reduction [
]. In our classification work, we
adopt a wrapper method because of its strong relationships with the classifier. Wrapper methods
are computationally costly compared with filter methods. However, the Boruta algorithm [
] uses
a Random Forest (RF) classifier [
] which makes it relatively fast due to its simple heuristic feature
selection procedure. In the work reported here, we used Boruta algorithm for feature selection. Boruta
is a feature reduction algorithm and it follows an all-relevant variable selection method rather than
a minimal-optimal method, taking account of multiple relationships among variables [
]. Boruta
runs several Random Forest models to obtain a statistically significant division between relevant
and unimportant feature variables. The feature reduction produces a reduced dataset, which can be
expected to improve classification accuracy due to the elimination of noise.
Machine learning (ML) has the potential to contribute to improved feature selection and to
generate implicit knowledge from the fused data. Rules may be extracted using ML very quickly and
extracted rules are often comparable to human-crafted rules [
]. Data fusion of multi-sensor data
can assist in defining accurate classification rules. In our work, ML is used to develop new rules by
extracting them from the data itself and applying those rules in an O-GEOBIA framework.
In this paper, we present an ontology-based approach to determine the similarity between two
classes and recommend semantic similarity measures that work for multi-sensor data. Semantic
similarity is one approach to quantifying the similarity between two different classes. Semantic
similarity measures are widely used in Natural Language Processing [
] and Ontology Alignment [
and are becoming important components of knowledge-based and information retrieval systems.
Ontology-based semantic similarity measures are categorised into hierarchy-based, information content
based, and feature-based [39].
In our case study, we implemented feature level data fusion from multispectral RapidEye satellite
imagery, airborne LiDAR data, and PI (Photo Interpretation) data. The fusion of multi-sensor data
contributed to the extraction of spectral, spatial, and contextual features, which were used to develop
classification rules in GEOBIA. The Boruta algorithm was employed to extract all relevant variables
in order to define more accurate classification rules. Semantic similarity methods were used to
characterise the similarities between different classes and we identified similarity measures that are
appropriate for an O-GEOBIA framework.
3. Methodology
In this section, we first present an overall methodological workflow for extended ontology driven
object-based image analysis. Next, we explain the contextual experimental design developed for
this study.
3.1. Extension of an Ontology-Driven Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (O-GEOBIA) Framework
This study proposes an extension of an O-GEOBIA framework [
] that uses ML techniques
method for automatic generation of rules. Figure 1shows the methodological steps, which comprises:
(1) data pre-processing, (2) feature selection based on ML, (3) rules generation using ML and ontology,
(4) ontology based image classification, and (5) semantic characterisation. These 5 steps are categorised
into 3 different stages. Our research work is largely focussed on Stage 1 (data fusion and feature
selection) and Stage 3 (semantic characterisation). The Stage 2 (rules generation and ontology based
image classification) is applied based on our previous work [6].
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 5 of 25
Stage1 Stage2 Stage3
Figure 1.
An overall methodological workflow for Ontology-driven Geographic Object-Based Image
Analysis (O-GEOBIA).
Step 1 Data pre-processing
This component comprises a fusion of multi-sensor data, image segmentation and feature
extraction. Different multi-sensor data such as satellite imagery and LiDAR are fused, resulting
in a new group of features. Image segmentation is carried out to delineate image objects. For
each image object, their underlying features value is calculated. Depending on the kind of
data used for fusion, different feature variables, such as spectral and spatial, are extracted. The
output of this module are extracted feature variables from multi-sensor data, which are input
for the next module.
Step 2 Feature selection based on ML
With data fusion, a high number of features are available. In this component, we select relevant
features using machine learning techniques. To achieve this, we use the Boruta algorithm
developed as a wrapper around the Random Forest classifier for identification of important
and relevant variables. In this work, we aim to illustrate the importance of feature selection in
multi-sensor data with experimental results.
Step 3 Rules generation using ML and Ontology
After selection of features, we use the inTrees (interpretable Trees) framework for automatic
extraction of classification rules from the datasets. These rules are added to an ontology along
with the expert-defined rules from the next module.
Step 4 Ontology based image classification
For image classification, the ontological framework proposed in [
] is adopted. The classification
experiments are based on spectral, LiDAR and variogram based features.
Step 5 Semantic characterisation
Finally, for semantic characterisation, semantic similarities between the different domain classes,
as defined in an ontology, are measured. Based on semantic distances, a semantic variogram
is calculated for the characterisation of domain classes. The semantic variogram is used as a
metric to characterise the variability between classes based on semantic distances.
3.2. Contextual Experimental Design
The experimental design for forest characterisation is carried out using three approaches:
(1) feature attributes; (2) spatial relations; and (3) semantic relations:
The feature attributes approach helps in the creation of classification rules but ignores spatial
relationships. The measurement data used in this approach include spectral and LiDAR data.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 6 of 25
The spatial relationships approach addresses spatial relationships and specifically contributes to
the classification using measures of autocorrelation. A variogram is used in this approach.
The semantic relations approach is based on the semantic relations between classes and uses an
ontology. A semantic variogram is used for this approach.
3.2.1. Feature Attributes
Different spectral bands from the sensors are used as feature attributes. From the LiDAR data,
we extracted various derivatives such as elevation, height and intensity. From the PI data (described
in Section 4) we extracted the forest structural group and class (FC2011) information. The feature
variables from different data sources are listed in Table 1.
Table 1. Variables extracted from multi-sensor data for classification.
Type Name
Spectral Brightness
Red Edge
LiDAR Canopy Height (CH)
Canopy Intensity (CI)
Soil Wetness
Wind Fetch
PI data FC2011
Together with the feature variables listed in Table 1, we added spectral vegetation indices
calculated using a different combination of spectral bands as shown in Table 2.
Table 2. Spectral vegetative indices used as feature variables for classification.
Name Equation Notes References
Ratio Vegetation Index Pearson & Miller (1972) [41]
Normalised Difference Vegetative Index Rouse, J.W., Jr. (1974) [42]
Normalised Difference Red Edge Index Gitelson et al. (1994) [43]
ρNIR +ρRED +LSoil Adjusted Vegetation Index Huete, A.R. (1988) [44]
1.5 (ρNIR ρRED)
ρNIR +ρRED +0.16 Optimised Soil Adjusted Vegetation Index Rondeaux et al. (1996) [45]
NLI ρ2
Non Linear Index Goel & Qin (1994) [46]
MNLI (ρ2
NIR ρRED)(1+L)
NIR +ρRED +LModified Non Linear Index Yang et al. (2008) [47]
(0.1 ρRED)2+ (0.06 ρNIR )2Burn Area Index Chuvieco et al. (2002) [48]
3.2.2. Spatial Relations
Researches have advocated the use of semivariograms for the improvement of object-based image
analysis [
]. To explore spatial relations for GEOBIA, we applied semivariogram features.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 7 of 25
A semivariogram is used to display the variability between data points as a function of distance.
In remote sensing, semivariograms are calculated as half of the average squared difference between
the reflectance value of a given spectral band separated by a given lag [
]. The semivariogram is
computed as:
γ(h) = 1
is the semivariance value at a certain lag distance h, and where z(x
)and z(x
+ h) represent
digital values at location x
and x
+ h respectively. N(h) is the number of paired pixels at a lag distance
h. The use of semivariogram features in GEOBIA follows the segmentation of the satellite image.
The semivariogram features used for classification are presented in Table 3.
Table 3. Semivariogram features taken from [49].
Name Equation Notes
RVF variance
Ratio between total variance and first semivariance
RSF γ2
Ratio between the first and the second semivariance
FDO γ2γ1
hFirst derivative near the origin
SDT γ42γ3+γ2
h2Second derivative at third lag
FML hmax1First maximum lag value
MFM γmean
Mean of the semivariogram values up to the first
Variance of the semivariogram values up to the first
DMF γmean
Difference between MFM and the first semivariance
RMM γmax1
Ratio between the first local maximum
semivariance and MFM
SDF γmax12γm ax1
Second-order difference between first lag and first
2 γ1+2 max11
γi!+γmax1!(γ1(hm ax1h1))
Second-order difference between first lag and first
DMS hmax2hm ax1
Distance between the first and the second local
DMM hmin1hma x1
Distance between the first local maximum and the
first local minimum
2(γmax1+2(m ax21
i=max1+1γm ax2))
2(hmax2hm ax1)(γm ax2+γmax 1)Hole area
3.2.3. Semantic Relations
In regular variograms, the variability between the observed numerical values of attributes are
considered. In the case of semantic variograms, the difference between numerical values are replaced
by semantic distances. The calculation of semantic distance is based on the semantic similarities
between two classes. Thus, a semantic variogram is a measure of the variability between two classes
based on the semantic similarities between classes at two different locations as opposed to their spatial
distance [52,53]. The semantic variogram γS D(h)for a lag distance h is computed as:
γSD (h) = 1
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 8 of 25
where N(h) is the number of pairs separated by h, and
is the semantic distance
between the class of cell xiand class of cell xi+h.
3.2.4. Semantic Similarities
A semantic variogram is calculated based on the semantic distances between classes defined in an
ontology [
]. Semantic distances can be quantified as the semantic similarity between two ontological
classes based on the semantics associated between the objects [
]. Semantic similarity measures
have been broadly categorised into hierarchy-based, information content based and feature-based [
The hierarchy-based similarity measure is a distance-based similarity measure that uses the
conceptual hierarchy to calculate the distance between concepts. This distance is a count of the
number of edges on the path or a count of the number of nodes in the path linking the two concepts.
Thus it is also known as the path-based similarity or edge-counting similarity measures [
The semantic distance is measured by calculating the number of edges or the number of nodes that
have to be traversed in a hierarchy from one concept to other. In Wu and Palmer’s hierarchy-based
measure [
], the similarity is calculated using the distance from the root to the common subsumer
of C1 and C2 using the equation below.
SimW P (C1, C2) = 2×len(root,C3)
len(C1, C3) + len(C2, C3) + 2×len(root,C3)(3)
In Equation
SimW P
is Wu and Palmer’s [
] hierarchy-based similarity measure,
1 and
2 are
the concepts whose semantic similarities are measured,
3 is the common subsumer of
1 and
root is the top concept in the hierarchy, and len(root,
3) is the number of nodes on the path from
concept C3 to the root concept.
Information content (IC) based similarity measures use a measure of how specific a concept is in a
given ontology. If a concept is more specific, there will be high information content and inversely
less information content with the more general concept. The ontology-based IC uses the ontology
structure itself [57] which is defined in Equation (4) as below.
SimIC (C) = 1log(numdesc(C)) + 1
where SimIC (C)is the Similarity based on Information Content (IC), numdesc(C)is the number of
descendants for concept C and maxont is the maximum number of concepts in the ontology.
In an ontology, a class can be treated equivalent to another class if both classes have the same
number of equivalent attributes. This means that the two classes are more highly similar when
more common attributes exist between the classes. Thus the feature-based similarity measure is a
degree of class similarity to another class. It is measured using the number of attributes that match
between two classes. This approach consists of combining feature-based similarities within an
ontology. The Tversky index is used to measure similarity based on the distinct features of class A
to B, distinct features of class B to A, and common features of class A and B [58].
SimTversky (C1, C2) = |A1A2|
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 9 of 25
1 and
2 are the sets of attributes of classes
1 and
2; |
2| is the total number of
formal attributes shared by
1 and
2, |
1| and |
2| represent the number of formal attributes
of C1 and C2; α=β= 1 which is equivalent to Jaccard index.
4. Experiment: Case Study on Tasmanian Forests
4.1. Tasmanian Forest-Type Mapping
Accurate mapping of forest-type is a necessary step for forest inventory estimation, which in
turn supports strategic forest management, carbon storage estimation, biological conservation and
ecological restoration. Historically, Tasmania’s forest-type mapping was carried out using stereoscopic
interpretation of aerial photographs and referred to as photo-interpretation (PI) typing. PI-typing
has served as a fundamental source of information for Tasmania’s forest management [
]. Forest
vegetation was segmented into patches that appeared visually homogeneous to highly skilled and
experienced photo interpreters [
]. Each patch was assigned with a photo interpreted PI-type code
that comprised a series of forest stand elements. These stand elements describe the forest associated
with a patch using a standard set of characteristics such as species type, growth stage, structural group
or forest group. The PI-type coding used in Tasmania is amenable to explicit formalisation and so
provides an opportunity to investigate the modelling of domain knowledge into an ontology and
the application of that ontology to multiple remote sensing data types to automate forest mapping.
Table 4shows the PI-typing associated with growth stage. Table 5shows the PI-typing associated
with structural grouping. The structural classification characterises forest stands into one of 12 broad
categories according to their predominance of mature, regrowth, regenerated (regen) and non-eucalypt
components (similar to STANDTYPE).
Table 4. Growth stage of Tasmanian forest.
Code Name Description
Y Young Regeneration Young native regeneration less than 20 years old.
R Regrowth Regrowth or regeneration older than 20 years.
M Mature or Senescing Mature or senescent (over-mature) forest.
U Unknown Unknown growth stage.
N Not Applicable Not applicable.
Table 5. Structural group of Tasmanian forest.
Code Name/Description
MAT Mature Eucalypt Forest, (with neither Regrowth nor aged eucalypt Regeneration)
MUR Mature Eucalypt Forest with Unheighted Regrowth (and without aged eucalypt regeneration)
MAR Mature Eucalypt with Aged Regeneration (from partial logging)
RGM Unaged Regrowth Eucalypt with Mature (and without aged eucalypt regeneration)
REG Pure Unaged Regrowth Eucalypt (and without mature or aged eucalypt regeneration)
RGA Eucalypt Regrowth or older Aged Regeneration, with younger Aged Regeneration (from partial logging)
Even Aged Eucalypt Silvicultural Regeneration (An aged regeneration element, whether heighted or not, with no other
mature or unaged eucalypt regrowth or aged eucalypt regeneration present)
UST Unstocked Eucalypt Forest
RNF Rainforest
ONF Other Native Forest
PLN Plantation
NOF Non Forest
4.2. Assumptions
In this study, we have selected a structural group as our basis for classification. Among the
structural group, we have selected Mature Eucalypt Forest (MAT), Pure Unaged Regrowth Eucalypt
Forest (REG) and Even Aged Eucalypt Silvicultural Regeneration forest (SIL). The key reasons for this
selection is that these forest types cover the majority of the study area and because of their high timber
production value.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 10 of 25
4.3. Ontology for Forest-Type Mapping
The forest-type mapping in this work is accomplished extending an Ontology-driven GEOBIA
(O-GEOBIA) framework [
]. For this ontological framework, the ontology is developed using the
structural group classification (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Structural group of a Tasmanian forest used to develop the ontology.
4.4. Study Area
The study area is located in northeast Tasmania, Australia, and is bounded between 517000E and
543000E and 5428000N and 5441500N and covers an area of approximately 356 km
. A RapidEye
satellite image of the study area is shown in Figure 3. The study area contains an almost complete
representation of Tasmania’s diverse forest types. The area has a complete coverage of Photo
Interpretation (PI) and LiDAR data.
0 2 4 6 81
Coordinate System: WGS 19 84 UTM Zone 55S
Projection: Transverse Mercator
Datum: WGS 1984
False Easting: 500,000.0000
False Northing: 10,000,000.0000
Central Meridian: 147.0000
Scale Factor: 0.9996
Latitude Of Origin: 0.0000
Units: Metre
Figure 3. The location of the study area situated in the northeast of Tasmania, Australia.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 11 of 25
4.5. Data
4.5.1. Satellite Image Data
A multispectral RapidEye dataset comprising 25 km
25 km tiles (24 km + 500 m tile overlap)
with UTM projection and WGS84 Datum was used. The ready to analyse imagery with radiometric,
sensor and geometric corrections was acquired from RapidEye. The imagery has a spatial resolution of
5.0 m and includes five spectral bands (Table 6).
Table 6. RapidEye spectral band description.
Bands Range
blue (0.44–0.51 µm)
green (0.52–0.59 µm)
red (0.63–0.685 µm)
red-edge (0.69–0.73 µm)
near-infra-red (0.76–0.85 µm)
4.5.2. LiDAR Data
Airborne small footprint LiDAR data was acquired during January of 2010 and 2012 using an
Optech Gemini discrete-return scanner operating at a 100 kHz laser repetition rate with a maximum
scan angle off nadir of 15 degrees. The minimum pulse density was 200 per 10 square meters, and
up to four returns were recorded per pulse. The laser scanner detects laser pulses reflected from the
forest and terrain, providing information about the height and vertical stratification of the canopy
elements. The intensity of each returned pulse also indicates the absorptive characteristics of the
canopy elements, which may differ between different species. Both the height and intensity of pulse
returns were used to create a number of variables. Vegetation height was derived by subtracting
the highest returns from a digital surface model derived from the ground returns. A canopy surface
height model and a surface intensity model were derived by fitting a b-spline curve to the highest
and brightest vegetation return at 1
1 m spatial resolution. Percentiles 5–100% in 5% increments
(e.g., ZPC90: 90 percentile of height value) and different moments such as Mean (e.g., CI_Mean: Mean
value of Canopy Intensity), Standard Deviation (e.g., Z_SD: Standard Deviation value of height), Skew
(e.g., Z_Skew: Skewness value of height), Kurtosis (Z_Kurt: Kurtosis value of height) and Range (e.g.,
Z_Range: Range value of height) were calculated for pulse height, pulse intensity, canopy surface
height and canopy surface intensity. Additionally, the proportions of all signal returns and vegetation
signal returns above certain heights were calculated for 1 m height increments from 1–5 m and 5 m
height increments from 5-80 m. This produced 168 variables. Due to high levels of redundancy in
this dataset, highly correlated LiDAR variables were removed with domain expert’s recommendation,
leaving 16 variables for inclusion in the models.
4.5.3. Photo Interpretation (PI) Data
For the past 50 years, PI-typing has served as a fundamental source of information for Tasmania’s
forest management [
]. PI-type codes provide a definition of height-class, crown density-class,
stem-count class or condition-class that can be used to characterise each forest class. These forest
classes have been grouped into the structural group presented in Table 5. The structural group MAT has
11 different forest classes categorised on the basis of their height, density and crown cover. For instance,
“E1a&b” is one of the forest class where E = Mature Eucalypt; 1 = average height 55–76 m; a = 70–100%
crown cover; b = 40–70% crown cover. Similarly, other forest structural groups are derived from the
forest class defined in PI-data.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 12 of 25
5. Implementation
The methodology described in Section 3has been implemented for Tasmanian forest-type
mapping using three different datasets. The overall steps are described in sub-sections below:
5.1. Data Fusion, Segmentation and Feature Extraction of Multi-Sensor Data
In this work, data fusion is carried out at the feature level. In feature level data fusion, at first
the image is segmented into objects using segmentation techniques. Next, for each segmented image
objects, features are extracted from different data sources. We fused three different types of data,
namely a RapidEye satellite image (Tiff file), LiDAR data (RData file), and Photo Interpretation data
(Shapefile) as shown in Figure 4.
.RData .TI F .SHP
LiDAR Satellite Image PI Data
Data Fusion
Feature Extraction
Metric to
1. Data Fusion + Segmentation + Feature Extraction
Figure 4. Data fusion, Segmentation and Feature extraction.
For segmentation and feature extraction, eCognition Developer Version 9.3.0 from Trimble,
Germany was used. A chessboard segmentation technique was used for segmenting different
forest-types in the RapidEye Satellite image. The object size parameter for chessboard segmentation
was set to 6000 pixels (larger than image size) and thematic layer set to be taken from PI data.
This ensures that the segmented image objects boundaries agree with the extent of PI data. From
the RapidEye satellite image, different spectral indices were extracted as feature variables. LiDAR
data was used to extract intensity, elevation, and their statistical metrics such as percentile and
proportional values. For the calculation of semivariogram and related texture features, we used
FETEX 2.0 from Geo-Environmental Cartography and Remote Sensing Research Group (CGAT),
Spain [
]. PI-data was used to extract forest thematic features: class, structural group, growth stage
and vegetation description.
5.2. Feature Selection
The fusion of multi-sensor data sources resulted in a large number of potential independent
variables. With a high number of variables, the model will suffer from redundant features, overfitting
and slow computation. However, there are two problems associated with reducing the dataset
dimensionality: finding a minimal set of variables that are optimal for classification known as
the ‘minimal-optimal’ problem and finding all variables relevant to the target variable known as
the ‘all-relevant’ problem [
]. In this work, feature selection was performed using the Boruta
package developed in R [
] (Figure 5). The Boruta algorithm [
] is implemented for finding all
relevant variables.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 13 of 25
Spectral Bands +
Attribute s
Random Forest
Important Variables
2. Feature Selection
Relevant Var iables
Selected Features
Figure 5. Feature Selection from multi-sensor data using machine learning techniques.
In the Boruta algorithm, duplicate copies of all the independent variables are created and shuffled.
These duplicated variables are termed shadow variables. Next, a random forest classifier is used
to identify the variable importance which results in a Z score. The Z score is the mean of accuracy
loss divided by standard deviation of accuracy loss. The maximum Z score (MZSA) is calculated
among those shadow variables. All the variables having importance lower than MZSA are tagged as
unimportant and those higher than MZSA are tagged as important. The process is repeated until all
the variables are tagged as important or unimportant. Based on the result from the Boruta algorithm,
the important variables are treated as all relevant variables. To check the consistency and robustness of
the model, we used k-fold cross validation approach to run Boruta. The dataset was randomly split
into 10 equal size subsamples with 75% of data was used for training and 25% of data was used for
validation. The selected all relevant variables serve as the input variables for ML techniques to extract
classification rules.
5.3. Rules Generation
ML techniques are used to discover knowledge from data that are not conducive to human
analysis, have high feature dimensions and a high number of predictor variables. Supervised data
helps to identify potential classification rules. In our work, forest class information from PI-Data is
used as supervised data to train the ML model. In a nutshell, we aim to leverage ML to automatically
extract classification rules out of the available remote sensing datasets.
Random Forests (RF) as an ensemble algorithm can produce a very good predictive result but it
acts as a black box model. With the thousands of decision trees as a forest, the ease of interpretation
of a single model is lost. The inTrees framework uses the following steps to close the gap of model
interpretability by converting the ensemble of models into a single model [
]. In this framework, the
rules are extracted from each decision tree in the tree ensemble. The rules are then ranked, based on
their frequency (measuring the rule’s popularity), error (defining incorrectly classified instances), and
length of the rule conditions (representing complexity). The rules are then pruned to remove irrelevant
variable value pairs from the rule conditions. The selection of relevant and non-redundant conditions
is performed using a feature selection approach. Finally, these processed rules are summarised into a
simple set of if/then rules. In this work, we used the inTrees framework to prune large rulesets with
redundant rules extracted from RF into simplified rules ready for the classification task (Figure 6). Such
rules are transformed into SWRL (Semantic Web Rule Language) [
] to be used by the ontological
reasoner for classification.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 14 of 25
Machine learning
Tec h ni q ue s
(RF + inTrees)
Data specific
Features E xtraction
3. Rules Generation
Figure 6. Use of Machine learning technique for classification rules generation.
5.4. Ontology-Based Image Classification
In the ontology-based image classification, we defined concepts, relations among them and
instances to represent a domain of interest using the machine readable Web Ontology Language
(OWL) [
]. The knowledge captured in a PI-type coding has not been organised in a formal
machine-readable format to be used by forest planners in past applications [
]. In this work, we used
the PI-type coding to model the Tasmanian forest domain knowledge for forest mapping. Subsequently,
we extract potential instances as the segmented image objects from the data pre-processing module.
The rules are defined in SWRL specification [
] as acquired from the rule generation module. The
ontological framework [
] for the representation and reasoning over ontologies using Pellet reasoner [
has been used, which executes the developed SWRL rules using the reasoning tools (Figure 7).
Figure 7. Ontology-based image classification framework.
6. Results
The classification results are based on the use of spectral indices, LiDAR derivatives and variogram
features individually and finally with a combination of all three cases.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 15 of 25
6.1. Feature Selection
The result from the application of the Boruta algorithm [
] to identify the relevant variables is
presented in this section. The relevant feature selection experiment was implemented in five stages: (i)
Using only spectral bands (Figure 8a); (ii) Using spectral band and vegetative indices based on the
spectral bands (Figure 8b); (iii) Using LiDAR derivatives (Figure 8c); (iv) Using variogram features
(Figure 8d); and (v) combining all the features from the previous four cases (Figure 9). In Figure 8a,c,
all the variables have higher importance than shadow variables. Thus, in these cases all the variables
are considered relevant and are represented by a green boxplot. The variables in the yellow boxplot
shown in the Figures 8b,d and 9are considered tentative variables whereas red boxplot variables are
determined as unimportant attributes.
−5 0 5 10 15
0 5 10
0 5 10
−5 0 5 10 15
Figure 8.
Boruta plot using (
) Spectral features (
) Spectral and Vegetative Indices (
derivatives (
) Variogram features. The x-axis shows the feature variables and y-axis shows importance
in terms of Z-scores. In this figure, green boxplots are relevant variables, red boxplots are unimportant
variables, yellow boxplots are tentative variables and the three blue boxplots represent maximum,
median and minimum importance for shadow variables. Variables with an importance value lower
than shadowMax are tagged as unimportant and higher than shadowMax are tagged as important.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 16 of 25
Figure 9.
Boruta plot with all feature variables (spectral, vegetative indices, lidar and variogram).
The x-axis shows the feature variables coloured according to data sources and the y-axis shows
importance in terms of Z-scores. In this figure, green boxplots are relevant variables, red boxplots are
unimportant variables, yellow boxplots are tentative variables and the three blue boxplots represent
maximum, median and minimum importance for shadow variables. Variables with an importance
value lower than shadowMax are tagged as unimportant and higher than shadowMax are tagged
as important.
Figure 9shows that 7 variables (Blue, CI_Mean, FDO, MFM, NDVI, Z_Skew, VFM) are confirmed
important, 9 variables are confirmed unimportant and remaining 32 as tentative variables. The number
of classifier (Random Forest) runs during the Boruta algorithm execution is limited by the maxRuns
argument (maxRuns = 18). This leaves attributes that need to be judged important or unimportant
are marked as tentative variables. A diagnostic plot depicting the fluctuation of variable importance
after several iterative runs of the Boruta algorithm is shown in Figure 10a. In Figure 10b, a scatter
plot shows the importance of each variables at each classifier run. In the plot, the green lines with
higher importance than shadowMax variables represent relevant variables. In the first few runs some
important variables (CI_Mean, NDVI) are below shadowMax variable as shown in Figure 10c and
an unimportant variable (SMIN) is above shadowMax variable as shown in Figure 10d. Thus, the
Boruta algorithm runs multiple Random Forest before arriving at a statistically significant decision.
The selection criteria for the maxRun parameter is the Random Forest classifier run that results in the
minimum number of variables and maximum classification accuracy. For instance, maxRun limits of
18 and 500 resulted in 7 and 26 confirmed important variables but with the same classification accuracy
of 82.57%.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 17 of 25
0 5 10 15
−4 −2 0 2 4 6 8
Random Forest classifier run
Z−Scores (Importance)
5 10 15
−4 −2 0 2 4 6 8
Random Forest classifier run
Z−Scores (Importance)
5 10 15
−4 −2 0 2 4 6
Random Forest Classifier run
Z−Scores (Importance)
5 10 15
−4 −2 0 2 4
Random Forest Classifier run
Z−Scores (Importance)
Figure 10.
Diagnostic plot of the Boruta algorithm showing (
) line plot of Z-scores (importance) at
different Random Forest run for each variable (
) scatter plot of Z-scores (importance) at different
Random Forest run for each variable (
) important variables appearing below shadowMax at certain
instance of Random Forest run (
) unimportant variables appearing above shadowMax at certain
instance of Random Forest run. In the figures, green lines and points represent important variables, red
lines and points represent unimportant variables, yellow lines and points represent tentative variables
and the three blue plots represent maximum, median and minimum importance for shadow variables.
6.2. Classification Accuracy Assessment
A confusion matrix is used to assess image classification accuracy. The matrix is created for three
different forest-type classes MAT, REG and SIL where the ground truth data is taken from PI data.
The accuracy assessment is carried out as 5 experiments based on individual features and combination
of all, as shown in Table 7.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 18 of 25
Table 7.
Confusion matrix between Spectral, Vegetative indices, LiDAR, and Variogram. In the table,
classes M, R and S represents MAT, REG and SIL respectively. The OA represents Overall Accuracy.
Class Spectral Spectral + Indices LiDAR Variogram All
M (MAT) 3 4 0 4 3 0 6 9 0 2 3 0 6 2 0
R (REG) 20 81 1 19 82 1 17 74 1 21 82 1 17 83 1
S (SIL) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
OA 77.06% 78.90% 73.39% 77.06% 81.65%
We experimented to compare the overall classification accuracy based on the features from
different sensors. The overall accuracy of spectral variables extracted from satellite imagery is 77.06%.
Next, we calculated standard vegetative indices using different spectral bands, which improved the
classification accuracy to 78.90%. Using LiDAR data without spectral features achieved an overall
accuracy to 73.39%. In the variogram based experiment, the accuracy is increased to 77.06%, similar
to that with spectral feature based first experiment. In the final experiment, spectral, LiDAR and
variogram features are used which showed the highest accuracy of 81.65%. The results suggest that
our aim to use data fusion to increase the number of feature variables for higher classification accuracy
is achieved. To tackle the feature dimension issue, the Boruta algorithm was then applied to extract
relevant variables. The subsequent classification, carried out using relevant variables, resulted in a
slightly higher accuracy of 82.57% (Table 8). Only one SIL plot is available in the given test dataset
which was not correctly classified in any of the experiments. However, we included this in our
experimental design as SIL is one of the representative forest types in Tasmania.
Table 8.
Confusion matrix for classification result based on all the variables available and relevant ones
extracted from the Boruta algorithm.
Class All Available Variables Relevant Variables
M (MAT) 6 2 0 8 3 0
R (REG) 17 83 1 15 82 1
S (SIL) 0 0 0 0 0 0
OA 81.65% 82.57%
6.3. Semantic Similarity Assessment
The first step to determine the semantic similarity between classes is to find out the common
attributes. Figure 11 shows the sharing of attributes for each class.
The hierarchy-based similarities investigated in this work are based on Wu and Palmer [
] using
. For the feature-based similarities calculation, the Tversky index [
] using Equation
is used.
Our results indicated that feature-based similarity measures were more capable of differentiating
among classes than hierarchy-based methods (Table 9). The Wu and Palmer’s hierarchy-based
similarity has the same index value of 0.25 for all the pairs of classes without being able to detect any
dissimilarity. This is explained by the equal hop distance between classes in the hierarchy. The Tversky
feature-based similarity measure showed significant differences between classes. Classes pairs that
match a higher number of attributes result in a higher similarity index value. The results show that
classes MAT and REG have a higher index with more attributes matched.
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 19 of 25
hasCanopyIndex hasElevation
hasNDVI hasRed
Figure 11.
Ontological graph showing the concepts and associated attributes. This graph shows the
sharing of the attributes of different concepts. The concept “MAT” and “REG” has the following
common attributes: {hasCanopyIntensity; hasIntensity; hasBrightness; hasBlue}. The attributes
“hasNDVI” and “hasRed” only belong to concepts “MAT” and “REG” respectively. The attributes
“hasElevation” belongs to all 3 concepts.
Table 9. Comparison between similarity measures.
Wu & Palmer Tversky
MAT REG 0.25 0.72
SIL 0.25 0.17
REG MAT 0.25 0.72
SIL 0.25 0.17
SIL MAT 0.25 0.17
REG 0.25 0.17
7. Discussion
7.1. Importance of Feature Selection in the Fused Multi-Sensor Data
With the fusion of multi-sensor data, the feature dimension increases and provides more variables
available to use in classification. The fusion process introduces non-relevant and redundant variables
that increases complexity and computational load. In tackling such circumstances, a feature selection
algorithm is used to reduce the number of variables without compromising overall classification
accuracies. In Table 8, we show how the classification accuracy is increased by 0.92% even when the
feature variables are reduced from 48 to 7.
Boruta offers an improvement over the Random Forests variable importance measure. In Random
Forests, the calculated Z score is not directly related to the statistical significance of the variable
importance. Boruta runs Random Forest on both original and random attributes and computes the
importance of all variables. Since the whole process is dependent on permuted copies, we repeat the
random permutation procedure to get statistically robust results for our fused datasets. The result
presented in Table 8shows how the classification accuracy is increased from 81.65% to 82.57% when
using simple RF with all features over relevant features extracted using Boruta. Considering the scope
of this work, no comparative evaluation of Boruta [
] with other feature selection mechanism such
as Altmann [
], r2VIM (Recurrent relative variable importance) [
] or Vita [
] was carried out.
The current research shows that Boruta efficiently identifies relevant variables in high-dimensional
datasets [70,71].
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 20 of 25
7.2. Evaluation of Semivariogram Features
The semivariogram has been applied in remote sensing to extract texture features and the spatial
structure for image classification. The usage of semivariograms varies from different types of sensor
data to different applications such as forest structure mapping [
] or classification of land use [
land cover [
] or vegetation communities [
]. With the advent of GEOBIA, semivariograms have
also been implemented in object-based image analysis [
]. To achieve harmony with GEOBIA,
the extraction of the semivariogram is performed for image segments instead for a certain size
window or kernel. Thus, we can claim that this is an object-based semivariogram as the calculation of
semivariogram is done within the boundary of each image segment. Within the extent of a segmented
object, a sequence of semivariance values is calculated, from which variogram variables will be
extracted. However, we have not experimented the variation of segments area and robustness in
resulting scenarios while selecting variogram variables. This is not tested statistically in this study
considering it is beyond the scope of the study.
In this study, we tested the efficiency of semivariogram derived features as proposed
by [
]. The classification accuracy of object-based image classification is compared between using
’semivariogram features’ vs. ’other sets of features extracted from spectral and lidar data’. The result
shows that the overall accuracy when using only the semivariogram derived features is 77.06%, which
is equivalent to that of spectral features (77.06%). The feature selection algorithm Boruta showed
the slope of the first two lags (FDO), mean and variance of the semivariogram values up to the first
maximum (MFM and VFM) to be relevant variables.
7.3. Selection of Semantic Similarities for Multi-Sensor Remote Sensing Data
GEOBIA is intended to align with the methods by which humans identify and classify
. For the success of an ontological GEOBIA framework, the ontology needs to be
developed with a focus on human activities in geographical space [
]. In image interpretation, there
is the lack of assessment of semantic likeness that occurs between image object classes. Ontology can
measure similarity that is based on semantics [
]. Ontology-based semantic similarity quantifies how
taxonomically two classes based on their features are similar. In this regard, applications developed
based on ontological domain knowledge require quantification of relationships between ontological
concepts [54].
Nevertheless, there exist different ontology-based semantic similarity approaches. To understand
and select the suitable method for a specific application is a challenge. For determining the method that
suits our forestry mapping application, different semantic similarity measures were studied and tested.
This work develops an innovation purely in ontological space—in calculating a semantic similarity
measure. In ontology-based semantic similarity measures, there are edge-counting, features based and
information content methods. The computation of these methods is simple and efficient as they only
exploit the semantic network provided by the ontology.
Among these, the edge-counting similarity measure is the simplest and is computationally
efficient [
]. However its similarity index is not suitable for the ontological model with the simple
hierarchical structure as it cannot exploit complex semantics hidden within the class. This was clearly
shown in the result presented in the Table 9where the semantic similarity measures calculated were
the same for all the classes in the same hierarchy.
The Information Content approach is based on capturing implicit semantic information as a
function of concept distribution in corpora [
]. Such an approach is useful in natural language
processing work where the association between the words found in a corpus and concepts are used
to compute accurate concept appearance frequencies. In our work, where the image classification is
carried out on the basis of feature attributes, the information content approach is not applicable.
Feature-based methods try to overcome the limitations of hierarchy-based measures by
considering ontological features of each class. Feature-based approaches thus rely on a taxonomic
hierarchy, relationships and attributes to determine the similarity between classes. Table 9shows
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 21 of 25
how a feature-based approach (Tversky) makes the distinction between different classes compared to
edge-counting (Wu & Palmer). Similar results were presented where feature-based semantic measures
performed better than the edge-counting measures [77].
7.4. Limitations
In this work, we employed semantic similarities based on the ontological data. The applicability
and accuracy of the similarity measures depend on the availability of well-defined domain ontologies.
This means that poor construction of the domain ontology will result in non-robust semantic similarities
between the domain classes. Also, the similarity is calculated based on the taxonomical hierarchy
relations. The non-taxonomic relations (e.g., object x is part of object y) that can help to determine
better similarity measures are missing. The discovery of non-taxonomic relations is a fundamental
point in domain knowledge construction and with its addition, semantic similarity measure will be
improved [78].
Among the different semantic similarity approach, we used a feature based semantic similarity
approach. Each feature used in finding the similarities can have a varied contribution in classifying
different classes. This phenomenon of feature contribution per class has not been considered in this
work. To overcome this limitation, each feature can be given a certain weight based on the contribution;
this is a topic for future research.
8. Conclusions
This research has extended an ontology based GEOBIA framework described in [
] to the case of
a data fusion environment. The innovation in this study is that multi-sensor data has been fused into
an integrated ontological image analysis framework. The developed framework incorporates spectral,
spatial, textural and semantic features. The issue of high feature dimensionality raised with data fusion
is addressed using a machine learning technique, in our case the Boruta algorithm. The algorithm
determines the relevant features used for classification. Semantic similarity techniques are exploited
for the characterisation of different forest-type classes. A semantic variogram is used to show the
spatial and semantic relations of the different forest-type classes. The GEOBIA community and the
science of O-GEOBIA can benefit from these types of extension within a GEOBIA methodology to
tackle the issues of multi-sensor data fusion.
Author Contributions:
S.R. and J.A. conceived the project; S.R. processed the data and wrote the first draft of the
manuscript; J.A., J.O., A.L. and R.M. commented on the manuscript and supervised the project.
Funding: This research received no external funding.
The authors would like to acknowledge the University of Tasmania, Discipline of Geography
and Spatial Sciences for logistics support and Sustainable Timber Tasmania for providing datasets and fruitful
discussions. Sachit Rajbhandari is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program
Scholarship. Authors would like to thank Ola Ahlqvist of The Ohio State University and Ashton Shortridge of
Michigan State University for sharing their published work and sample codes on Semantic Variograms.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
The following abbreviations are used in this manuscript:
DEM Digital Elevation Model
DSM Digital Surface Model
FC2011 Forest Class 2011
GEOBIA Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis
IC Information Content
inTrees interpretable Trees
LAS file LASer file
LiDAR Light Detection and Ranging
MAT Mature Eucalypt Forest
Remote Sens. 2019,11, 503 22 of 25
ML Machine Learning
MZSA Maximum Z Score
O-GEOBIA Ontology-driven Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis
OWL Web Ontology Language
PI Photo Interpretation
REG Pure Unaged Regrowth Eucalypt Forest
r2VIM Recurrent relative variable importance
RF Random Forests
SIL Even Aged Eucalypt Silvicultural Regeneration forest
SWRL Semantic Web Rule Language
UTM Universal Transverse Mercator
WGS84 World Geodetic System 1984
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Sample Availability:
The codes developed in R language are available upon request to the corresponding author
for testing the replicability of this research.
2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access
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... From the proposals [23][24][25] implemented through the GeoDMA framework (GEOBIA), in synthesis provides the realization of the steps of segmentation of satellite images, extraction of attributes, creation of classification rules, hierarchical classification and visualization of results. Additionally, the works [19,[26][27][28][29] describe in detail the precautions to be taken in image acquisition and processing. In particular, according to [27,30], the monitoring of the interactions with the terrestrial surfaces is very important, where each intensity of the solar radiation must be observed. ...
... The availability of images from satellites and aerial platforms over the Earth's surface in the most diverse resolutions has been enabling an unprecedented approach between technology and society, as [28] the processing of large volumes of data and geolocation for the use of mobile devices in most different devices makes the insertion of various technologies flexible. However, large volumes of data are generated, and for analysis, new challenges arise involving interoperability, from those related to data collection and storage, through ethics and privacy [33][34][35], to the development of efficient and robust algorithms to extract the most unimaginable information. ...
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Due to the increasing urban development, it has become important for municipalities to permanently understand land use and ecological processes, and make cities smart and sustainable by implementing technological tools for land monitoring. An important problem is the absence of technologies that certify the quality of information for the creation of strategies. In this context, expressive volumes of data are used, requiring great effort to understand their structures, and then access information with the desired quality. This study are designed to provide an initial response to the need for mapping zones in the city of Itajaí (SC), Brazil. The solution proposes to aid object recognition employing object-based classifiers OneR, NaiveBayes, J48, IBk, and Hoeffding Tree algorithms used together with GeoDMA, and a first approach in the use of Region-based Convolutional Neural Network (R-CNN) and the YOLO algorithm. All this is to characterize vegetation zones, exposed soil zones, asphalt, and buildings within an urban and rural area. Through the implemented model for active identification of geospatial objects with similarity levels, it was possible to apply the data crossover after detecting the best classifier with accuracy (85%) and the kappa agreement coefficient (76%). The case study presents the dynamics of urban and rural expansion, where expressive volumes of data are obtained and submitted to different methods of cataloging and preparation to subsidize rapid control actions. Finally, the research describes a practical and systematic approach, evaluating the extraction of information to the recommendation of knowledge with greater scientific relevance. Allowing the methods presented to apply the calibration of values for each object, to achieve results with greater accuracy, which is proposed to help improve conservation and management decisions related to the zones within the city, leaving as a legacy the construction of a minimum technological infrastructure to support the decision.
... It is also known as multispectral image when only spectral channels are included. Semantic segmentation of multichannel image is the basis for many remote sensing applications, such as cloud detection [1]- [3], land use/ land cover classification [4], [5] and forest monitoring [6], [7]. ...
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Semantic segmentation of multichannel images is a fundamental task for many applications. Selecting an appropriate channel combination from the original multichannel image can improve the accuracy of semantic segmentation and reduce the cost of data storage, processing and future acquisition. Existing channel selection methods typically use a reasonable selection procedure to determine a desirable channel combination, and then train a semantic segmentation network using that combination. In this study, the concept of pruning from a supernet is used for the first time to integrate the selection of channel combination and the training of a semantic segmentation network. Based on this concept, a One-Shot Task-Adaptive (OSTA) channel selection method is proposed for the semantic segmentation of multichannel images. OSTA has three stages, namely the supernet training stage, the pruning stage and the fine-tuning stage. The outcomes of six groups of experiments (L7Irish3C, L7Irish2C, L8Biome3C, L8Biome2C, RIT-18 and Semantic3D) demonstrated the effectiveness and efficiency of OSTA. OSTA achieved the highest segmentation accuracies in all tests (62.49% (mIoU), 75.40% (mIoU), 68.38% (mIoU), 87.63% (mIoU), 66.53% (mA) and 70.86% (mIoU), respectively). It even exceeded the highest accuracies of exhaustive tests (61.54% (mIoU), 74.91% (mIoU), 67.94% (mIoU), 87.32% (mIoU), 65.32% (mA) and 70.27% (mIoU), respectively), where all possible channel combinations were tested. All of this can be accomplished within a predictable and relatively efficient timeframe, ranging from 101.71% to 298.1% times the time required to train the segmentation network alone. In addition, there were interesting findings that were deemed valuable for several fields.
... But some studies were contradictory to our results, e.g., Tong et al. (2019) indicated that salinity, NO 3 -N and pH shaped the structure of bacterial community in mangroves across China. Due to choosing influential and non-influential attributes in an unbiased and consistent manner (Rajbhandari et al., 2019), Boruta algorithm analysis further was adopted and proved temperature was the most important factor regulating Bacillus community in mangrove ecosystem. Bacillus community was sensitive to temperature change (Yi et al., 2012), and could develop timely "coping strategies" in the face of temperature change to regulate the microbial community , consistent with our results. ...
Mangroves are located at the interface of terrestrial and marine environments, and experience fluctuating conditions, creating a need to better explore the relative role of the bacterial community. Bacillus has been reported to be the dominant group in the mangrove ecosystem and plays a key role in maintaining the biodiversity and function of the mangrove ecosystem. However, studies on bacterial and Bacillus community across four seasons in the mangrove ecosystem are scarce. Here, we employed seasonal large-scale sediment samples collected from the mangrove ecosystem in southeastern China and utilized 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing to reveal bacterial and Bacillus community structure changes across seasons. Compared with the whole bacterial community, we found that Bacillus community was greatly affected by season (temperature) rather than site. The key factors, NO3-N and NH4-N showed opposite interaction with superabundant taxa Bacillus taxa (SAT) and three rare Bacillus taxa including high rare taxa (HRT), moderate rare taxa (MRT) and low rare taxa (LRT). Network analysis suggested the co-occurrence of Bacillus community and Bacillus-bacteria, and revealed SAT had closer relationship compared with rare Bacillus taxa. HRT might act crucial response during the temperature decreasing process across seasons. This study fills a gap in addressing the assembly of Bacillus community and their role in maintaining microbial diversity and function in mangrove ecosystem.
... As summarized by Lu and Weng [15], some potential methods such as graphic analysis, statistical methods, and the fuzzy-logic expert system have been used to identify optimal combination of variables. An alternative is to use random forest (RF) method because of the ability to provide importance ranking of variables [3,16,17]. Too many variables used in a classification procedure cannot guarantee the best classification result, but selection of the optimal variable combination from a wide range of variables is critical for separation of specific classes [6]. Many previous studies have proven that, when multisource data are used, machine learning algorithms (e.g., artificial neural networks (ANN), support vector machine (SVM), classification and regression trees (CART), and RF) have advantages over traditional classification methods/techniques (e.g., maximum likelihood classifier (MLC) and minimum distance) in dealing with complex data, thus, providing better classification [10,18,19]. ...
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Remote sensing data covering large geographical areas can be easily accessed and are being acquired with greater frequency. The massive volume of data requires an automated image analysis system. By taking advantage of the increasing availability of data using computer vision, we can design specific systems to automate data analysis and detection of archaeological objects. In the past decade, there has been a rise in the use of automated methods to assist in the identification of archaeological sites in remote sensing imagery. These applications offer an important contribution to non‐intrusive archaeological exploration, helping to reduce the traditional human workload and time by signalling areas with a higher probability of presenting archaeological sites for exploration. This survey describes the state of the art of existing automated image analysis methods in archaeology and highlights the improvements thus achieved in the detection of archaeological monuments and areas of interest in landscape‐scale satellite and aerial imagery. It also presents a discussion of the benefits and limitations of automatic detection of archaeological structures, proposing new approaches and possibilities.
Designing efficacious semantics for the dynamic interaction and searches has proven to be concretely challenging because of the dynamically of the semantic searches, method of browsing and visualization interfaces for high volume information. This has a direct impact on enhancing the capabilities of the web. To surmount the challenges of providing meaning to high volume unstructured datasets, Natural language processing techniques and implements have been proven to be propitious, however, the reactivity of these techniques should be studied and predicated on the objective of providing meaning to the unstructured data. This paper demonstrates the working of five NLP techniques namely, bag-of-words, TF-IDF, NER, LSA, and LDA. The experiment provides the kindred attribute accomplishment or the identification of the meaning of this unstructured data varies from one technique to another. However, NLP techniques can be efficient as they provide insights into the data and make it human-readable. This will in turn avail in building better human–machine intractable browsing and applications.
Raman spectroscopy, a “fingerprint” spectrum of substances, can be used to characterize various biological and chemical samples. To allow for blood classification using single-cell Raman spectroscopy, several machine learning algorithms were implemented and compared. A single-cell laser optical tweezer Raman spectroscopy system was established to obtain the Raman spectra of red blood cells. The Boruta algorithm extracted the spectral feature frequency shift, reduced the spectral dimension, and determined the essential features that affect classification. Next, seven machine learning classification models are analyzed and compared based on the classification accuracy, precision, and recall indicators. The results show that support vector machines and artificial neural networks are the two most appropriate machine learning algorithms for single-cell Raman spectrum blood classification, and this finding provides essential guidance for future research studies.
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A microstand is a small forest area with a homogeneous tree species, height, and density composition. High-spatial-resolution GeoEye-1 multispectral (MS) images and GeoEye-1-based canopy height models (CHMs) allow delineating microstands automatically. This paper studied the potential benefits of two microstand segmentation workflows: (1) our modification of JSEG and (2) generic region merging (GRM) of the Orfeo Toolbox, both intended for the microstand border refinement and automated stand volume estimation in hemiboreal forests. Our modification of JSEG uses a CHM as the primary data source for segmentation by refining the results using MS data. Meanwhile, the CHM and multispectral data fusion were achieved as multiband segmentation for the GRM workflow. The accuracy was evaluated using several sets of metrics (unsupervised, supervised direct assessment, and system-level assessment). Metrics were calculated for a regular segment grid to check the benefits compared with the simple image patches. The metrics showed very similar results for both workflows. The most successful combinations in the workflow parameters retrieved over 75 % of the boundaries selected by a human interpreter. However, the impact of data fusion and parameter combinations on stand volume estimation accuracy was minimal, causing variations of the RMSE within approximately 7 m3/ha.
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In Geographic Object-based Image Analysis (GEOBIA), identification of image objects is normally achieved using rule-based classification techniques supported by appropriate domain knowledge. However, GEOBIA currently lacks a systematic method to formalise the domain knowledge required for image object identification. Ontology provides a representation vocabulary for characterising domain-specific classes. This study proposes an ontological framework that conceptualises domain knowledge in order to support the application of rule-based classifications. The proposed ontological framework is tested with a landslide case study. The Web Ontology Language (OWL) is used to construct an ontology in the landslide domain. The segmented image objects with extracted features are incorporated into the ontology as instances. The classification rules are written in Semantic Web Rule Language (SWRL) and executed using a semantic reasoner to assign instances to appropriate landslide classes. Machine learning techniques are used to predict new threshold values for feature attributes in the rules. Our framework is compared with published work on landslide detection where ontology was not used for the image classification. Our results demonstrate that a classification derived from the ontological framework accords with non-ontological methods. This study benchmarks the ontological method providing an alternative approach for image classification in the case study of landslides.