Evaluating buffer stress along a spectrum of land uses for wetland health rapid assessment in Delaware

Authors: Matthew Walter*, University of Delaware, Pinki Mondal, University of Delaware
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Geographic Information Science and Systems, Remote Sensing
Keywords: Wetlands, GIS, Remote Sensing, Urban Geography
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Wetlands are amongst the most productive ecosystems, however they still face degradation through anthropogenic land use changes. Because of this, it is important to fully understand the landscape-level impacts of land use changes on wetlands. In this study, we focus on three wetlands in Delaware, USA, representing a range of land use settings, from urban, to agricultural, and finally natural land use areas. We calculate wetland stress within buffer zones by utilizing the Rapid Assessment Procedure (DERAP) developed by the state of Delaware. In this study, we focus only on the buffer stress category within the DERAP, determining if stressors fall within the buffer area (100 m) of each wetland study site. Stressors include roads mapped from the Delaware Department of Transportation’s road network, landfills, forest harvesting, and livestock operations all mapped from the Delaware Office of Management and Budget’s Land Use dataset, golf courses geolocated from Google Earth, and development and crop fields classified using object based classification on Landsat 8 imagery from 2018 with 30 meter resolution. A score is given to each wetland based on how many stressors fall within a wetlands buffer. The aim of this is to automate the DERAP procedure so that buffer stress can quickly and effectively be analyzed, even in areas that are private or hard to access manually. Doing so will allow for the comparison of buffer health in wetlands among different land uses, creating insight into how wetland health is affected in the presence of these land use types.

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