Seagrass meadows, one of the world’s most widespread and productive ecosystems, provide a wide range of services with real economic value. Worldwide declines in the distribution and abundance of seagrasses and increased threats to coastal ecosystems from climate change have prompted a need to acquire baseline data for monitoring and protecting these important habitats. We assessed the distribution and abundance of eelgrass (Zostera marina) along nearly 1200 km of shoreline on the lower Alaska Peninsula, a region of expansive eelgrass meadows whose status and trends are poorly understood. We demonstrate the effectiveness of a multi-scale approach by using Landsat satellite imagery to map the total areal extent of eelgrass while integrating field survey data to improve map accuracy and describe the physical and biological condition of the meadows. Innovative use of proven methods and processing tools was used to address challenges inherent to remote sensing in high latitude, coastal environments. Eelgrass was estimated to cover ~31,000 ha, 91% of submerged aquatic vegetation on the lower Alaska Peninsula, nearly doubling the known spatial extent of eelgrass in the region. Mapping accuracy was 80%–90% for eelgrass distribution at locations containing adequate field survey data for error analysis.
|Title||Establishing a baseline for regional scale monitoring of eelgrass (Zostera marina) habitat on the lower Alaska Peninsula|
|Authors||Kyle R. Hogrefe, David H. Ward, Tyrone F. Donnelly, Niels Dau|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Remote Sensing|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB|