Tassi, A., Massetti, A. & Gil, A. (2022) The spectralrao-monitoring Python package: a RAO's Q diversity index-based application for land-cover/land-use change detection in multifunctional agricultural areas.Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, 196, 106861. DOI:10.1016/j.compag.2022.106861 (IF2020 5,565; Q1 Agriculture, Multidisciplinary)
Monitoring multifunctional agricultural areas is paramount to ensure their cost-effective management. The remote sensing-based detection of land-cover/land-use (LCLU) changes and analysis of vegetation dynamics constitute a relevant indicator to support robust monitoring schemes, allowing the control of agri-environmental conditions and enforcing related measures and policies. The Rao's Q diversity index (RaoQ) is frequently used to measure functional diversity in ecology, thanks to the textural analysis of the environment. This paper aims to develop and provide an open-source Python application whose workflow may constitute a RaoQ-based LCLU change monitoring tool for multifunctional agricultural areas. Here, a use case is presented for detecting and mapping LCLU changes leveraging the free and open access Landsat 8 (L8) satellite data. The workflow is organized in four main stages: (1) data processing; (2) Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) calculation; (3) RaoQ calculation; and (4) detection and mapping of LCLU changes through thresholding of RaoQ. Three methodological approaches were developed (RaoC – “classic” RaoQ; RaoMD – “multidimensional” RaoQ, and “classic + multidimensional” RaoQ) with overall accuracies ranging from 0.88 to 0.92. An example of an agri-environmental monitoring decision-support framework based on spectralrao-monitoring is presented. The application is easily reproducible, and the code is fully available and utilizable with other sensors at different resolutions to support monitoring other types of agricultural areas.