Improving Machine Learning Classifications of Phragmites australis Using Object-Based Image Analysis

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3 Scopus citations


Uncrewed aircraft systems (UASs) are a popular tool when surveilling for invasive alien plants due to their high spatial and temporal resolution. This study investigated the efficacy of a UAS equipped with a three-band (i.e., red, green, blue; RGB) sensor to identify invasive Phragmites australis in multiple Minnesota wetlands using object-based image analysis (OBIA) and machine learning (ML) algorithms: artificial neural network (ANN), random forest (RF), and support vector machine (SVM). The addition of a post-ML classification OBIA workflow was tested to determine if ML classifications can be improved using OBIA techniques. Results from each ML algorithm were compared across study sites both with and without the post-ML OBIA workflow. ANN was identified as the best classifier when not incorporating a post-ML OBIA workflow with a classification accuracy of 88%. Each of the three ML algorithms achieved a classification accuracy of 91% when incorporating the post-ML OBIA workflow. Results from this study suggest that a post-ML OBIA workflow can increase the ability of ML algorithms to accurately identify invasive Phragmites australis and should be used when possible. Additionally, the decision of which ML algorithm to use for Phragmites mapping becomes less critical with the addition of a post-ML OBIA workflow.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number989
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the Legislative and Citizen Commission for Minnesota Resources through Minnesota’s Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF) via the Minnesota Invasive Terrestrial Plant and Pest Center (MITPPC) grant number ML2018 Ch214 Art.4 Sec.2 Sub.06a E818ITP.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • invasive species
  • machine learning
  • object-based image analysis
  • Phragmites australis
  • UAS


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