Evaluating the effectiveness of UAV-based remote sensing systems to detect rangeland plant species in the Texas panhandle
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Modern rangeland management in the Texas panhandle is using new technology to help monitor plants and track wildlife. Recent technology in the fields of remote sensing, UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), and data processing has given land managers more efficient ways of evaluating rangeland health and diversity. A Phantom 3 Professional UAV was paired with a Parrot Sequoia multispectral camera to capture true color and infrared imagery of the Texas Tech Native Rangeland. Flights were conducted seasonally summer 2017 to fall 2018 to test the seasonal impact of detecting plant species at the site. In each season, flights were conducted at altitudes of 30, 60, and 100 meters to test the impact of spatial resolution on detection as well. Recent innovations in image classification techniques in ArcGIS were tested to determine their viability of detecting distinct plant species. Using image segmentation and these new classifiers, the ability to map distinct plant species across the site using these tools were evaluated through an accuracy assessment. This study focused on native Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) and non-native Yellow Bluestem (Bothriochloa ischaemum). Having the ability to detect and quantify unique species on rangelands can lead to more effective management techniques that will benefit native shortgrass prairies in the Texas panhandle.