Alternative spatially enhanced integrative techniques for mapping seagrass in Florida's marine ecosystem

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Seagrass is an important component of coastal marine ecosystems. Seagrass mapping provides a means for assessing seagrass health by monitoring the spatial distribution and density of seagrass habitat in coastal waters. Recent image processing and satellite technologies present the opportunity to leverage quantitative techniques that have the potential to improve upon traditional photo-interpretation techniques in terms of cost, mapping fidelity, and objectivity. Integrated spatial and spectral processing techniques were identified as an alternative method for mapping seagrass extent and density from an IKONOS satellite image of Springs Coast, Florida. These spatially enhanced integrative mapping techniques objectively standardize seagrass-monitoring efforts and enhance mapping capabilities by characterizing spatial seagrass density gradients. A combination of water column correction, pixel classification, and image segmentation techniques provided a seagrass density index map that represented seagrass density and distribution with high spatial detail and overall accuracy (77%) comparable to photo-interpretation techniques. Satellite imagery-based spatially enhanced image processing techniques were found to provide a consistent, quantitative, and cost-effective alternative for seagrass mapping in Springs Coast with the potential to be transferred to other parts of the world. A cost savings analysis concluded that there was a 13% cost saving using satellite photo-interpretation and a 47% cost saving using enhanced satellite classification when compared to aerial photo-interpretation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission – Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, St. Petersburg,FL, USA 2: Department of Environmental Science and Policy,University of South Florida, St. Petersburg,FL, USA 3: Southwest Florida Water Management District, Brooksville,FL, USA

Publication date: February 20, 2013

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