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In PloS one ; h5-index 176.0

Pollination services and honeybee health in general are important in the African savannahs particularly to farmers who often rely on honeybee products as a supplementary source of income. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the floral cycle, abundance and spatial distribution of melliferous plants in the African savannah landscapes. Furthermore, placement of apiaries in the landscapes could benefit from information on spatiotemporal patterns of flowering plants, by optimising honeybees' foraging behaviours, which could improve apiary productivity. This study sought to assess the suitability of simulated multispectral data for mapping melliferous (flowering) plants in the African savannahs. Bi-temporal AISA Eagle hyperspectral images, resampled to four sensors (i.e. WorldView-2, RapidEye, Spot-6 and Sentinel-2) spatial and spectral resolutions, and a 10-cm ultra-high spatial resolution aerial imagery coinciding with onset and peak flowering periods were used in this study. Ground reference data was collected at the time of imagery capture. The advanced machine learning random forest (RF) classifier was used to map the flowering plants at a landscape scale and a classification accuracy validated using 30% independent test samples. The results showed that 93.33%, 69.43%, 67.52% and 82.18% accuracies could be achieved using WorldView-2, RapidEye, Spot-6 and Sentinel-2 data sets respectively, at the peak flowering period. Our study provides a basis for the development of operational and cost-effective approaches for mapping flowering plants in an African semiarid agroecological landscape. Specifically, such mapping approaches are valuable in providing timely and reliable advisory tools for guiding the implementation of beekeeping systems at a landscape scale.

Makori David Masereti, Abdel-Rahman Elfatih M, Landmann Tobias, Mutanga Onisimo, Odindi John, Nguku Evelyn, Tonnang Henry E, Raina Suresh