Evaluation of Remotely Sensed Data for the Application of Geospatial Techniques to Assess Hurricane Impacts on Coastal Bird Habitat
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER VICKSBURG MS ENVIRONMENTAL LAB
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The 2004 hurricane season significantly impacted portions of Floridas coastlines and altered shoreline habitat for a wide variety of coastal organisms Greening et al. 2006. Remotely sensed data can help characterize and assess these habitats and provide inferences on how hurricanes and subsequent coastal engineering practices affect the distribution and abundance of these species. This technical note focuses specifically on providing a better understanding of the requirements and limitations involved for mapping coastal bird habitat with respect to hurricane impacts. Recommendations are also made for conducting surveys to effectively monitor shoreline-dependent bird communities, since the geospatial data are specifically intended to supplement this effort. To appropriately assess the impact hurricanes have on coastal bird habitats, it is necessary to obtain suitable pre- and post-storm data on the distribution, abundance, and structure of these habitats. This allows for the establishment of baseline data pre-conditions that can then be compared to post-event data to assess the amount of change that occurred. It is also necessary to acquire data on the distribution and abundance of shoreline-dependent birds from discrete coastal locations that coincide with the remotely sensed data. Due to the lack of sufficient pre-storm remotely sensed data, the focus of the effort was redirected to conducting a proof of concept approach using only the more suitable post-event data. This research effort involved the gathering and evaluation of remotely sensed data with assessment of post-event data and suggests an approach for directly measuring habitat changes before and after future storm events.