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Using supervised classification and change detection to assess habitat distribution in the Tijuana River Estuary

Authors: Suzanne Walther*, University of San Diego, Darbi Berry, University of San Diego
Topics: Geomorphology, Coastal and Marine, Remote Sensing
Keywords: remote sensing, geomorphic change detection, habitat classification, estuary
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Coastal wetland habitats are influenced directly by subtle changes in the geomorphological make up of their landscapes. Changes to physical factors, such as elevation and tidal prism, can dictate the space available for specific habitats to thrive. This study uses LiDAR data (2010-2016) from the Tijuana River Estuary to map wetland habitat types and analyze changes in surface elevation, and therefore habitat types, over time. The greatest change in habitat type between 2010 and 2014 occurred in the high marsh habitat zones, where the High Marsh Tidal decreased 3.49 acres and the High Marsh Non-Tidal increased 4.71 acres. Between 2010 and 2014, the marsh platform of the estuary increased in elevation across the habitat zones. The highest values of sediment deposition (20-35 cm) are seen along the periphery of the tidal channels. Higher rates of sediment accumulation are often found in low marsh and salt marsh habitats, which were identified as proximal to the tidal channels using unsupervised classification. These habitats are most subject to change and both are critical habitats for several endangered species such as the Ridgeway’s Rail. These remote sensing techniques can help to identify the areas within the study site most at risk of change and can inform management of the estuary.

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