Quantification of reed coverage and vegetation status is fundamental for monitoring and developing lake conservation strategies. The applicability of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) three-dimensional data (point clouds) for status evaluation was investigated. This study focused on mapping extent, density, and vegetation status of aquatic reed beds. Point clouds were calculated with Structure from Motion (SfM) algorithms in aerial imagery recorded with Rotary Wing (RW) and Fixed Wing (FW) UAV. Extent was quantified by measuring the surface between frontline and shoreline. Density classification was based on point geometry (height and height variance) in point clouds. Spectral information per point was used for calculating a vegetation index and was used as indicator for vegetation vitality. Status was achieved by combining data on density, vitality, and frontline shape outputs. Field observations in areas of interest (AOI) and optical imagery were used for reference and validation purposes. A root mean square error (RMSE) of 1.58 m to 3.62 m for cross sections from field measurements and classification was achieved for extent map. The overall accuracy (OA) acquired for density classification was 88.6% (Kappa = 0.8). The OA for status classification of 83.3% (Kappa = 0.7) was reached by comparison with field measurements complemented by secondary Red, Green, Blue (RGB) data visual assessments. The research shows that complex transitional zones (water–vegetation–land) can be assessed and support the suitability of the applied method providing new strategies for monitoring aquatic reed bed using low-cost UAV imagery.
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