Integrating Field and Remotely Sensed Data for Assessment of Coral Reef and Seagrass Habitats

Chris Roelfsema (2009). Integrating Field and Remotely Sensed Data for Assessment of Coral Reef and Seagrass Habitats PhD Thesis, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Chris Roelfsema
Thesis Title Integrating Field and Remotely Sensed Data for Assessment of Coral Reef and Seagrass Habitats
School, Centre or Institute School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-08
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Professor Stuart Phinn
Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
Associated Professor James Udy
Total pages 251
Total colour pages 51
Total black and white pages 200
Subjects 05 Environmental Sciences
Abstract/Summary Coral reef habitats are being threatened by global warming, natural disasters and the increased pressure of the global population. These habitats are in urgent need of efficient monitoring and management programs to sustain their biological, economic and cultural values for the global community. Habitats maps, describing the extent, composition and the condition of the benthos in time and space, form a valuable information source for scientists and managers to answer their management questions. Adequate and accurate habitat maps are needed and can be provided by a range of mapping approaches, which are based on integration of field and remotely sensed image data sets. Scientists, technicians and managers lack knowledge on the cost effectiveness and procedures for calibrating and validating mapping approaches that integratef field data and remote sensing imagery, for use in various coral reef and seagrass environments. This knowledge is required to adequately design, apply and assess operational mapping approaches and their maps. Hence, the aim of this study is to improve habitat mapping capabilities by integrating low cost remote sensing approaches and field-calibration and -validation methods for a range of coral reef and seagrass environments. To achieve this aim, commonly used habitat mapping approaches that integrated field-calibration and -validation methods with remote sensing image based processing techniques were studied, in different coral reef and seagrass environments in Fiji and Australia. These environments varied in: water clarity, water depth, benthic composition, spatial complexity of benthic features, and remoteness. The study had three objectives: (1) to evaluate the accuracy, cost and perceived relevance of eight commonly used benthic cover mapping approaches for three different coral reef environments. (2) Conduct a cost-benefit comparison of two field survey methods for calibrating and validating maps of coral reef benthos derived from high-spatial resolution satellite images in three different coral reef environments. (3) Identify considerations for comparing the thematic accuracy of multi-use image based habitat maps in various coral reef and seagrass environments. A scientific assessment and an evaluation of the relevance for managers, was conducted on eight commonly used habitat mapping approaches for three different coral reef environments. This analysis revealed a preference for a mapping approach based on supervised classification of Quickbird imagery integrated with basic field data. This approach produced an accurate map within a short time with low cost in that suited the user’s purpose. Additionally, the results indicated that user preference in selecting a suitable map was affected by: variations in environmental complexity; map purpose, and resource management requirements. To assess the variation in performance of methods for calibration and validation for coral reef benthic community maps, derived from high-spatial resolution satellite images, a comparison was conducted between spot check and georeferenced photo-transect based mapping approaches. The assessment found that the transect based method was a robust procedure which could be used in a range of coral reef environments to map the benthic communities accurately. In contrast, the spot check method is a fast and low cost approach suitable to map benthic communities which have lower spatial complexity. However, the spot check approach provides robust results, if it is applied in a standardised manner, providing a description of selected homogenous areas with georeferenced benthic cover photos. Considerations for comparing the thematic accuracy of multi-use image based habitat maps in various coral reef and seagrass environments were assessed. This included a review of 80 scientific publications on coral reef and seagrass habitat mapping, which revealed a lack of knowledge and reporting in regards to the assessment of the thematic map accuracy. These publications commonly used thematic accuracy measures and factors controlling their variation were then determined for various habitat mapping approaches for different coral reefs and seagrass environments. Assessment of these measures found that variations in accuracy levels were not only a result of actual differences in map accuracy, but were also due to: spatial complexity of benthic features present in the study area; distribution of the calibration and validation samples relative to each other, and the level of detail provided by these samples. Two main outcomes resulted from this dissertation. The first was the development of a robust mapping approach based on georeferenced photo-transect method integrated with high spatial resolution imagery, which is able to accurately map a variety of coral reef and seagrass habitats. The second outcome is an increase in capacity for coral reef and seagrass habitat mapping by scientists and managers. This increase is accomplished by providing knowledge on various habitat mapping approaches in regards to their: cost/time, accuracy and user relevance; performance of calibration and validation field methods; and performance of accuracy measures, when applied in a range of coral reef and seagrass environments. The findings and outcomes from this dissertation will significantly contribute to management of coral reef and seagrass environments by enabling scientists and managers to choose appropriate combinations of: field and image data sources; processing approaches, and validation methods for habitat mapping in these environments.
Keyword coral reefs
Seagrasses
Habitat Mapping
Supervised classification
remote sensing
calibration
validation
Cost Benefit Analysis
Quickbird
Management
Additional Notes Colour (51)page numbers: 39,41,52,55,57,58,66,70,72,73,78,79,81,96,108,109,110,127,133,169,170,171,172,174,176, 178,180,182,184,186,190,192,194,196,198,200,202,204,208,210,212,214,216,238,240,242, 244,246,248,250,251 Landscape (60)page numbers: 169,170,173-217,237-249

 
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Created: Tue, 25 Aug 2009, 14:09:47 EST by Mr Christiaan Roelfsema on behalf of Library - Information Access Service