Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Geography and Geosciences

Degree Program

Geography (Applied), MS

Committee Chair

Gaughan, Andrea

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Stevens, Forrest

Committee Member

Stevens, Forrest

Committee Member

Emery, Sarah

Author's Keywords

remote sensing; ecology; geography; conservation; Kentucky


The invasion of the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) (Adelges tsugae) has posed a continual threat in the United States to the Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) trees since the 1950s. HWA feed on eastern hemlock needles, reducing the amount of healthy photosynthesizing vegetative area. The use of satellite imagery has been instrumental in identifying areas of eastern hemlock presence. Satellite platforms like Landsat and AVIRIS are commonly used for identification, classification, and mapping of eastern hemlock. Sentinel-2 imagery was released in 2015 for free access. It has a finer spatial grain of with the majority of the bands at 10 and 20 m compared to the 30m resolution of Landsat, for example, and has multiple NIR and SWIR bands where previously used satellites have only one of each, making it ideal for the classification of eastern hemlock trees in the eastern United States. The study will use summer and winter Sentinel-2 imagery in an attempt to answer three questions: 1) What is the current extent of eastern hemlock along the portion of the Pine Mountain Wildlands Corridor within Kentucky? 2) Can various stages of hemlock decline be identified within areas of known hemlock presence? Using a Random Forest classification method in the ArcGIS Pro Environment, hemlock presence was predicted with a 94% accuracy. The variation in spectral signature of eastern hemlock due to decline led to the inability to predict health stages, however, hemlock canopy coverage was predicted with an 83.6% accuracy. Mapping eastern hemlock trees can inform land management of the status of hemlock death, implications on forest health for areas of death, and identify areas in which treatment is needed on their lands.