High Resolution Critical Habitat Mapping and Classification of Tidal Freshwater Wetlands in the ACE Basin
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In collaboration with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve (ACE Basin NERR), the tidal freshwater ecosystems along the South Edisto River in the ACE Basin are being accurately mapped and classified using a LIDAR-Remote Sensing Fusion technique that integrates LAS LIDAR data into texture images and then merges the elevation textures and multispectral imagery for very high resolution mapping. This project discusses the development and refinement of an ArcGIS Toolbox capable of automating protocols and procedures for marsh delineation and microhabitat identification. The result is a high resolution habitat and land use map used for the identification of threatened habitat. Tidal freshwater wetlands are also a critical habitat for colonial wading birds and an accurate assessment of community diversity and acreage of this habitat type in the ACE Basin will support SCDNR's conservation and protection efforts. The maps developed by this study will be used to better monitor the freshwater/saltwater interface and establish a baseline for an ACE NERR monitoring program to track the rates and extent of alterations due to projected environmental stressors. Preliminary ground-truthing in the field will provide information about the accuracy of the mapping tool.