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Reflectance spectroscopy to characterize the response of Corymbia calophylla to Phytophthora root rot and waterlogging stress

Croeser, L., Admiraal, R., Barber, P., Burgess, T.I.ORCID: 0000-0002-7962-219X and Hardy, G.E.St.J. (2021) Reflectance spectroscopy to characterize the response of Corymbia calophylla to Phytophthora root rot and waterlogging stress. Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research, 95 (3). pp. 312-330.

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The health of Corymbia calophylla (marri), a keystone tree species in the native forests of southwest Western Australia, has been in decline for the past few decades. Phytophthora root disease and waterlogging have often been cited as contributing to this decline. Traditional methods (i.e., field surveys and sampling) of mapping Phytophthora root infection in the field are time-consuming and expensive; thus, the potential of reflectance spectroscopy to characterize marri response to Phytophthora and waterlogging stress was investigated. Twelve-month old marri plants were infected with either P. cinnamomi or P. multivora in two glasshouse trials and waterlogged for 24 h each fortnight. Spectral measurements with a portable high-resolution spectroradiometer were taken weekly. Plant biophysical measurements were taken at harvest time. Normalized difference spectral index (NDSI) was calculated for every combination of reflectance values between 400 and 2500 nm for all time points, correlated with the treatment effects and displayed as heat maps. Narrowband vegetation indices (VIs), utilizing different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, were also calculated from the spectral data. The Phytophthora treatments did not cause significant differences with the biophysical measurements in both trials. In the second trial, the waterlogging treatment significantly lowered plant top dry weight (P = 0.016) and diameter (P = 0.044). Reflectance values plotted against wavelength displayed differences between treatments as well as a seasonal trend. The NDSI heat maps indicated that the Phytophthora and waterlogging treatment effects were strongest correlated with bandwidths in the visible and near-infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum (538–558 nm and 701–709 nm). Six of the VIs (normalized difference nitrogen index 2, anthocyanin reflectance index 1, photochemical reflectance index, Carter index 1, Vogelman index 3 and water band index) were able to track the biochemical changes in the leaves over the 10 weeks, confirming the seasonal trend. The interaction effect between P. cinnamomi, waterlogging and elapsed time in the first trial was significant for water band index (P = 0.010). This study demonstrates that reflectance spectroscopy holds promise for characterizing marri response but more work needs to be done to identify the optimum wavelengths for identifying Phytophthora and waterlogging stress with marri.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Terrestrial Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
Publisher: Oxford University Press on behalf of Institute of Chartered Foresters
Copyright: © 2021 The Authors.
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