Assessment of spectral vegetation indices for riparian vegetation in the Colorado River delta, Mexico

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Journal Article
Journal Of Arid Environments, 2001, 49 pp. 91 - 110
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This study tested the relationship between three, commonly-used vegetation indices (VIs), percent vegetation cover (% cover) and leaf area index (LAI) over a complex riparian landscape in the Colorado River delta, Mexico. Our objective was to correlate vegetation and soil features with VIs using low-level aerial photography, in preparation for scaling up to analysis of vegetation features using satellite imagery. We used a three-band digital imaging camera (Dycam) to collect data from an aircraft flying at 150 m. A series of 84 images (67×100 m) were analysed. Nine of these sites were ground-truthed; the species, % cover, and LAI were determined. Measured LAI (nine sites) from tree, shrub, and groundcover categories were used to determine a global (GLAI) value for 63 images. We conducted both VIs:% cover and VIs:GLAI regression analyses. The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) was the VI that best predicted % cover (r2=0·837), but the soil adjusted vegetation index (SAVI) and enhanced vegetation index (EVI) gave nearly equal results (r2=0·807 and 0·796, respectively). Normalized difference vegetation index, SAVI and EVI were less useful in predicting GLAI (r2=0·73, 0·65, 0·64, respectively).
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