Remote sensing and wetland ecology: a South African case study
De Roeck, Els R
Verhoest, Niko E C
Miya, Mtemi H
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Remote sensing offers a cost efficient means for identifying and monitoring wetlands over a large area and at different moments in time. In this study, we aim at providing ecologically relevant information on characteristics of temporary and permanent isolated open water wetlands, obtained by standard techniques and relatively cheap imagery. The number, surface area, nearest distance, and dynamics of isolated temporary and permanent wetlands were determined for the Western Cape, South Africa. Open water bodies (wetlands) were mapped from seven Landsat images (acquired during 1987 – 2002) using supervised maximum likelihood classification. This study has indicated that ecologically relevant data can be generated for the larger wetlands through relatively cheap imagery and standard techniques, despite the relatively low resolution of Landsat and Envisat imagery. For the characterisation of very small wetlands, high spatial resolution optical or radar images are needed. This study exemplifies the benefits of integrating remote sensing and ecology and hence stimulates interdisciplinary research of isolated wetlands.