Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Ruiliang Pu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joni Downs, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brian Bahder, Ph.D.


Change Detection, Empirical Bayesian Kriging, GLCM, Random Forest, TensorFlow, WorldView-2


Native palms, such as the Sabal palmetto, play an important role in maintaining the ecological balance in Florida. As a side-effect of modern globalization, new phytopathogens like Texas Phoenix Palm Decline have been introduced into forest systems that threaten native palms. This presents new challenges for forestry managers and geographers. Advances in remote sensing has assisted the practice of forestry by providing spatial metrics regarding the type, quantity, location, and the state of heath for trees for many years. This study provides spatial details regarding the general palm decline in Florida by taking advantage of the new developments in deep learning constructs coupled with high resolution WorldView-2 multispectral/temporal satellite imagery and LiDAR point cloud data. A novel approach using TensorFlow deep learning classification, multiband spatial statistics and indices, data reduction, and step-wise refinement masking yielded a significant improvement over Random Forest classification in a comparison analysis. The results from the TensorFlow deep learning were then used to develop an Empirical Bayesian Kriging continuous raster as an informative map regarding palm decline zones using Normalized Difference Vegetation Index Change. The significance from this research showed a large portion of the study area exhibiting palm decline and provides a new methodology for deploying TensorFlow learning for multispectral satellite imagery.