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Mapping Submerged Aquatic Vegetation with GIS in the Caloosahatchee Estuary: Evaluation of Different Interpolation Methods

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This article evaluates different spatial interpolation methods for mapping submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in the Caloosahatchee Estuary, Florida. Data used for interpolation were collected by the Submersed Aquatic Vegetation Early Warning System (SAVEWS). The system consists of hydro-acoustic equipment, which operates from a slow-moving boat and records bottom depth, seagrass height, and seagrass density. This information is coupled with geographic location coordinates from a Global Positioning System (GPS) and stored together in digital files, representing SAV status at points along transect lines. Adequate spatial interpolation is needed to present the SAV information, including density, height, and water depth, as spatially continuous data for mapping and for comparison between seasons and years. Interpolation methods examined in this study include ordinary kriging with five different semivariance models combined with a variable number of neighboring points, the inverse distance weighted (IDW) method with different parameters, and the triangulated irregular network (TIN) method with linear and quintic options. Interpolation results were compared with survey data at selected calibration transects to examine the suitability of different interpolation methods. Suitability was quantified by the determination coefficient (R2) and the root-mean-square error (RMSE) between interpolated and observed values. The most suitable interpolation method was identified as the one yielding the highest R2 value and/or the lowest RMSE value. For different geographic conditions, seasons, and SAV parameters, different interpolation methods were recommended. This study identified that kriging was more suitable than the IDW or TIN method for spatial interpolation of all SAV parameters measured. It also suggested that transect data with irregular spatial distribution patterns such as SAV parameters are sensitive to interpolation methods. An inappropriate interpolation method such as TIN can lead to erroneous spatial representation of the SAV status. With a functional geographic system and adequate computing power, the evaluation and selection of interpolation methods can be automated and quantitative, leading to a more efficient and accurate decision.
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Keywords: SPATIAL INTERPOLATION; SUBMERGED AQUATIC; VEGETATION

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 1999

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