Geospatially Enabled, Web-based Habitat Reporting Tool to Support Monitoring and Assessment along the Louisiana Shore

Science Center Objects

The State of Louisiana's Barrier Island Comprehensive Monitoring (BICM) program has partnered with USGS to developed two habitat classifications schemes for monitoring barrier island habitats and habitats in beach-dune systems along the mainland. These schemes builds upon previous BICM habitat mapping efforts.

The Science Issue and Relevance: 

Beach-dune environments and barrier islands provide numerous invaluable ecosystem goods and services including storm protection and erosion control for estuaries and the mainland, habitat for fish and wildlife, salinity regulation in estuaries, carbon sequestration in marshes, recreation, and tourism. These environments are dynamic systems due to their position at the land-sea interface. Storms, wave energy, tides, currents, and relative sea-level rise are powerful forces that shape coastal geomorphology and habitats. As a result, natural resource managers are concerned with shoreline erosion, land loss, and habitat changes over time. Given the dynamic nature of shorelines, monitoring changes to these habitats is extremely important.

Habitat maps provide a snapshot of coastal habitats and can be combined with historical and/or future maps to monitor these valuable natural resources over time. Researchers at the University of New Orleans developed habitat maps for the State of Louisiana’s Barrier Island Comprehensive Monitoring (BICM) program for 1996/1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2005 (Fearnley and others, 2009). In 2016, the BICM program partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center to develop habitat maps for 2008 and 2015/2016 and assess change between these two years. One challenge with large-scale habitat mapping efforts is efficient and effective data visualization and distribution. To be most effective, data products should be available to resource decision managers, the scientific community, and the general public. In response, the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center’s Advanced Application Team developed a web-based reporting tool to aid in the visualization of habitat maps and habitat change maps by BICM reach. 

Click here to use the tool!

BICM Habitat Reporting Tool

State of Louisiana’s Barrier Island Comprehensive Monitoring (BICM) Habitat Reporting Tool (HRT)

(Public domain.)

Methodology for Addressing the Issue:

The BICM program has developed two habitat classification schemes for monitoring barrier island habitats and habitats in beach-dune systems along the mainland. These include a detailed 15-class habitat scheme and a general eight-class habitat scheme. The detailed scheme was developed specifically for the 2008 and 2015/2016 current habitat mapping effort underway by the USGS (i.e., the 2008 and 2015/2016 habitat mapping effort) and builds upon the general scheme used in previous BICM habitat mapping efforts. The additional classes included in the detailed scheme are primarily used to delineate various dune habitats, separate marsh and mangrove, and distinguish between beach and unvegetated barrier flats. To ensure comparability between this effort and previously developed BICM habitat map products, we have cross walked the detailed classes to general habitat classes. The habitat change analyses depict and summarize habitat change between 2008 and 2015/2016 per BICM reach. The results from these analyses are summarized in two habitat change products. The first product depicts change in land and water coverage and the second product highlights changes based on tidal zones (e.g., water, intertidal-unvegetated, intertidal-vegetated, and supratidal).

The HRT includes a wizard that guides the user through a series of questions to develop either a single- or a multi-pane web map. The resulting web map include a user-specified combination of habitat maps and habitat change maps developed by the USGS. Users can also use the tool to create and print reach-specific habitat maps and habitat change maps as PDF files. Additionally, all geospatial data used to create these habitat maps and habitat change map products are available for download at USGS ScienceBase.


Future Steps: Based on future funding and barrier island assessment needs, additional tools and geospatial data products could be developed.