European spruce bark beetle (Ips typographus, L.) green attack affects foliar reflectance and biochemical properties

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The European spruce bark beetle Ips typographus, L. (hereafter bark beetle), causes major economic loss to the forest industry in Europe, especially in Norway Spruce (Picea abies). To minimise economic loss and preclude a mass outbreak, early detection of bark beetle infestation (so-called “green attack” stage – a period at which trees are yet to show visual signs of infestation stress) is, therefore, a crucial step in the management of Norway spruce stands. It is expected that a bark beetle infestation at the green attack stage affects a tree's physiological and chemical status. However, the concurrent effect on key foliar biochemical such as foliar nitrogen and chlorophyll as well as spectral responses are not well documented in the literature. Therefore, in this study, the early detection of bark beetle green attacks is investigated by examining foliar biochemical and spectral properties (400–2000 nm). We also assessed whether bark beetle infestation affects the estimation accuracy of foliar biochemicals. An extensive field survey was conducted in the Bavarian Forest National Park (BFNP), Germany, in the early summer of 2015 to collect leaf samples from 120 healthy and green attacked trees. The spectra of the leaf samples were measured using an ASD FieldSpec3 equipped with an integrating sphere. Significant differences (p < 0.05) between healthy and infested needle samples were found in the mean reflectance spectra, with the most pronounced differences being observed in the NIR and SWIR regions between 730 and 1370 nm. Furthermore, significant differences (p < 0.05) were found in the biochemical compositions (chlorophyll and nitrogen concentration) of healthy versus green attacked samples. Our results further demonstrate that the estimation accuracy of foliar chlorophyll and nitrogen concentrations, utilising partial least square regression model, was lower for the infested compared to the healthy trees. We show that early stage of infestation reduces not only foliar biochemical content but also their retrieval accuracy. Our results further indicate that remote sensing measurements can be successfully used for the early detection of the bark beetle infestation. We demonstrated that bark beetle infestation at the green attack stage effects leaf spectral response as well as leaf biochemical properties and their retrievals from hyperspectral measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-209
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation (JAG)
Early online date28 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Foliar chlorophyll and nitrogen concentration
  • Hyperspectral
  • Bark beetle (Ips typographus, L.)
  • Green attack
  • Norway spruce


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