Estimation of boreal forest floor lichen cover using hyperspectral airborne and field data

Nea Kuusinen, Aarne Hovi, Miina Rautiainen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Lichens are sensitive to competition from vascular plants, intensive silviculture, pollution and reindeer and caribou grazing, and can therefore serve as indicators of environmental changes. Hyperspectral remote sensing data has been proved promising for estimation of plant diversity, but its potential for forest floor lichen cover estimation has not yet been studied. In this study, we investigated the use of hyperspectral data in estimating ground lichen cover in boreal forest stands in Finland. We acquired airborne and in situ hyperspectral data of lichen-covered forest plots, and applied multiple endmember spectral mixture analysis to estimate the fractional cover of ground lichens in these plots. Estimation of lichen cover based on in situ spectral data was very accurate (coefficient of determination (r2) 0.95, root mean square error (RMSE) 6.2). Estimation of lichen cover based on airborne data, on the other hand, was fairly good (r2 0.77, RMSE 11.7), but depended on the choice of spectral bands. When the hyperspectral data were resampled to the spectral resolution of Sentinel-2, slightly weaker results were obtained. Tree canopy cover near the flight plots was weakly related to the difference between estimated and measured lichen cover. The results also implied that the presence of dwarf shrubs could influence the lichen cover estimates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22014
Number of pages19
JournalSilva Fennica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cladonia
  • remote sensing
  • spectroscopy


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