Date of Award

Fall 2009

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Barrett Rock


Anthocyanin, thought to be a universal indicator of plant stress, is a red pigment found in many plant species and can seen in New England autumns. Detecting its presence is useful for ecosystem analysis and monitoring changes during autumn senescence. Currently fall foliage is subjectively measured; creation of a satellite-based anthocyanin index will provide an objective measurement and enhance understanding of the distribution of plant stress and senescence over large areas. Anthocyanin indices were tested hyperspectrally in a laboratory setting, then indices were simulated for Hyperion, MERIS, MODIS, and Landsat TM/ETM+ to see which most accurately represents changes in anthocyanin concentration, and finally indices were applied to actual imagery. Results of this study found that (1/R564)-(1/R697) was the best approximation for anthocyanin; the red:green ratio was the best overall estimator of anthocyanin using simulated satellite bands; and real imagery from MODIS and MERIS satellite sensors can detect a fall foliage signal.