Monitoring tamarix changes using worldview-2 satellite imagery in grand canyon national park, arizona

Nathaniel Bransky, Temuulen Sankey, Joel B. Sankey, Matthew Johnson, Levi Jamison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Remote sensing methods are commonly used to monitor the invasive riparian shrub tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) and its response to the northern tamarisk beetle (D. carinulata), a specialized herbivore introduced as a biocontrol agent to control tamarisk in the Southwest USA in 2001. We use a Spectral Angle Mapper (SAM) supervised classification method with WorldView-2 (2 m spatial resolution) multispectral images from May and August of 2019 to map healthy tamarisk, canopy dieback, and defoliated tamarisk over a 48 km segment of the Colorado River in the topographically complex Grand Canyon National Park, where coarse-resolution satellite images are of limited use. The classifications in May and August produced overall accuracies of 80.0% and 83.1%, respectively. Seasonal change detection between May and August 2019 indicated that 47.5% of the healthy tamarisk detected in May 2019 had been defoliated by August 2019 within the WorldView-2 image extent. When compared to a previously published tamarisk map from 2009, derived from multispectral aerial imagery, we found that 29.5% of healthy tamarisk canopy declined between 2009 and 2019. This implies that tamarisk beetle impacts are continuing to accumulate even though land managers have noted the presence of the beetles in this reach of the river for 7 years since 2012.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number958
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • Biocontrol
  • High resolution remote sensing
  • Tamarisk
  • Tamarisk beetle
  • WorldView-2 image

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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