Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department

Forestry

First Advisor

Dr. Mary A. Arthur

Second Advisor

Dr. Marco A. Contreras

Abstract

Landsat imagery has been used successfully to assess burn severity and monitor post-fire forest structure in a variety of ecosystems, but to date there are few documented studies on its application in the eastern deciduous forests of the eastern United States. The occurrence of a wildfire in the Daniel Boone National Forest in2010 provided a rare opportunity for research into the use of Landsat data for assessing burn severity and its ecological effects. We used differenced normalized burn ratio (∆NBR) to quantify burn severity. The ∆NBR based burn severity classification had 70% agreement with a qualitative ground-based burn severity assessment. We also examined the relationship between the presence of an invasive species (Paulownia tomentosa), and our assessment of burn severity, where we found a weak but statistically significant relationship (adj R2 0.13, p<0.0001). We also examined the relationship between the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and forest structure measurements. The relationship between NDVI and basal area was strongly and significantly related (adj R2 0.41, p<0.0001). The relationship of NDVI with stem density was weak but significant (adj R2 0.23. p=0.004). These results indicate that data from Landsat imagery have great potential for quantifying burn severity, identifying potential hotspots for invasive species, and assessing post fire forest structure in the eastern deciduous forest.

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