Tidal creeks are small estuarine watersheds characterized by low freshwater input, marine to brackish salinity, and subtidal, intertidal, and supratidal habitats. Most people are familiar with large rivers and estuaries, but the smaller tidal watersheds comprise a greater percentage of the coastline. As the population along coasts rises there is growing concern about water quality and increased sedimentation rates. Therefore, these smaller tidal creek watersheds are at risk to pollution, decreased environmental health, and deterioration of protective salt marshes. The purpose of this study was to test methods for high spatial resolution mapping of benthic (submerged) and emergent habitats as well as the derivation of bathymetry using DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 imagery. An intensive field effort was conducted to test and assess several image processing techniques. Results concluded that: (1) supervised habitat classification produced the highest map accuracy (95%); (2) sand, water, scrub/shrub, and docks/rubble were mapped the most accurately at greater than 95%; (3) saltmarsh habitats (high and low density cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora
, and black needlerush, Juncus roemerianus
), mud, and oyster beds were between 80 and 85% accurate; (4) pan-sharpening and atmospheric correction did not improve map accuracy; (5) LiDAR (light detection and ranging) data increased habitat map accuracy; and (6) WorldView-2 imagery was capable of deriving water depth and these data increased the map accuracy of benthic habitats. The project produced habitat maps for benthic and emergent species at high spatial resolution (4 m2
) which will be useful for studying the dynamic processes in this tidal environment. The data and methods developed here could be used by state and local government planning agencies to assess potential long-term changes and develop appropriate management strategies.
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