Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 186, Issue 1, pp 441–456 | Cite as

Spatial characterization of bark beetle infestations by a multidate synergy of SPOT and Landsat imagery

  • Hooman Latifi
  • Bastian Schumann
  • Markus Kautz
  • Stefan Dech


Biological infestations in forests, e.g. the insect outbreaks, have been shown as favoured by future climate change trends. In Europe, the European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus L.) is one of the main agents causing substantial economic disturbances in forests. Therefore, studies on spatio-temporal characterization of the area affected by bark beetle are of major importance for rapid post-attack management. We aimed at spatially detecting damage classes by combining multidate remote sensing data and a non-parametric classification. As study site served a part of the Bavarian Forest National Park (Germany). For the analysis, we used 10 geometrically rectified scenes of Landsat and SPOT sensors in the period between 2001 and 2011. The main objective was to explore the potential of medium-resolution data for classifying the attacked areas. A further aim was to explore if the temporally adjacent infested areas are able to be separated. The random forest (RF) model was applied using the reference data drawn from high-resolution aerial imagery. The results indicate that the sufficiently large patches of visually identifiable damage classes can be accurately separated from non-attacked areas. In contrast to those, the other mortality classes (current year, current year 1 and current year 2 infested classes) were mostly classified with higher commission or omission errors as well as higher classification biases. The available medium-resolution satellite images, combined with properly acquired reference data, are concluded to be adequate tools to map area-based infestations at advanced stages. However, the quality of reference data, the size of infested patches and the spectral resolution of remotely sensed data are the decisive factors in case of smaller areas. Further attempts using auxiliary height information and spatially enhanced data may refine such an approach.


Bark beetle (Ips typographus L.) Central Europe Random Forest Medium-resolution data Aerial photography 



This study was accomplished using the multidate SPOT data provided by the Planet Action initiative launched by Astrium GEO and SPOT Image. We appreciate the BFNP administration, in particular Dr. Jörg Müller and Dr. Marco Heurich, for providing permission to use the polygon-based infestation data for validation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hooman Latifi
    • 1
  • Bastian Schumann
    • 1
  • Markus Kautz
    • 2
  • Stefan Dech
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Remote Sensing in cooperation with German Aerospace Center (DLR)University of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Animal EcologyTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  3. 3.German Remote Sensing Data Center, German Aerospace CenterWeßlingGermany

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